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26 Oct 2010 : Column WA245



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA245

Written Answers

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Agricultural Wages Board

Question

Asked by Baroness Quin

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): No specific consultation was undertaken prior to the decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board, as views on the future of the board have been well known for many years, in particular those of the National Farmers' Union and Unite which represent employers and workers on the board. We intend to discuss with interested parties practical approaches to wage-setting in agriculture in the absence of the board and how workers can be best informed of their contractual rights after it has been abolished.

Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Professors Seralini and Carrasco and their collaborators have published a number of papers relating to glyphosate.

The Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) of the Health and Safety Executive routinely monitors relevant published literature relating to pesticides. Where there are any issues of regulatory relevance the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) is asked for its opinion.

Many of these papers have been assessed through the routine monitoring process with the conclusion that regulatory action was not required. A number of recently published studies are currently under consideration.

Genetically modified crops are not currently grown in the UK.

Armed Forces: A400M

Question

Asked by Lord Gilbert



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA246

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I am withholding the information as its disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.

Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave him on 27 September (Official Report, col. WA 472).

In addition, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) monitors the liquidity of UK deposit-takers through regular reporting from and dialogue with firms, and, as part of this, uses "Best Buy" tables as one indicator of retail funding risk.

The FSA sees retail funding risk as one of the main sources of liquidity risk for UK deposit-takers, and this is a key area that is monitored by the FSA as part of its continuing supervision of the liquidity of UK deposit-takers and the sustainability of their business models.

A monthly "Best Buy" table is widely circulated across FSA supervisors to help inform their discussions with firms. "Best Buy" tables may, for example, be used to question firms on the aggressiveness or, conversely, the lack of competitiveness in their retail deposit raising.

Banking: Special Liquidity Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The special liquidity scheme (SLS) is a Bank of England scheme. The drawdown period for the SLS closed on 30 January 2009. The Bank announced at the end of September that of the £185 billion Treasury bills initially advanced, some £57 billion has already been repaid.

More information on the SLS is available on the Bank's website at www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/s1s/index.htm.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA247

Banks: Lending

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The supervision of individual institutions and system-wide regulatory requirements are determined by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), an independent body. Following the onset of the financial crisis the FSA implemented the so-called '4-6-8' capital regime. This requires UK banks to hold at least 4 per cent of core tier 1 capital.

At an international level, the Group of Central Bank Governors and Heads of Supervision, the oversight body of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, recently delivered a historic and crucial set of reforms that will substantially increase financial stability. Following the G20 agreement in Toronto, regulation will be strengthened only once the recovery is assured. To this end an extended implementation period to 2019 will ensure the transition to new standards, including higher capital and liquidity requirements, will not jeopardise the economic recovery. These reforms will be implemented within the EU by amending the capital requirements directive.

As part of the transition period we negotiated in the Basel package, we do not expect the FSA to lower bank capital requirements. UK banks have already made particularly good progress, having raised their average core tier 1 ratios to the highest level in more than a decade. Analysis by the tripartite authorities suggests the transition to higher regulatory standards will be manageable for UK banks.

In order to ensure the flow of credit to businesses, the Chancellor announced a number of proposals at the Budget in June 2010. These include increasing the Enterprise Finance Guarantee by £200 million to enable additional lending of up to £700 million for small businesses until 31 March 2011 and the launch of a new Enterprise Capital Fund, to provide an extra £37.5 million in equity finance for small businesses with high growth potential.

The Government have also published a Green Paper on business finance in July, to help inform and take forward their agenda on credit and other sources of finance for businesses. This paper discussed the current conditions of bank lending to small and medium sized businesses. Further information about the Green Paper is available here: http://www.bis.gov.uk/businessfinance. The consultation period for the Green Paper closed on 20 September and the Government will comment on responses in due course.

In response to the Government's Green Paper on business finance, the British Bankers' Association has recently published the outcomes of its business finance taskforce, which was written in conjunction with the six major UK banks. The taskforce banks have committed

26 Oct 2010 : Column WA248

to improving customer relationships through a new lending code, ensuring better access to finance and promoting better understanding.

In order to ensure better access to finance, the taskforce banks have agreed to establish and invest in a new £1.5 billion Business Growth Fund, which will provide capital to growing businesses. The taskforce has also announced that it would support the Government Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, which supports lending to viable businesses with insufficient collateral and track record. Through awareness raising campaigns and other measures, the taskforce has also committed to help mid-sized businesses access syndicated debt markets and to improve access to trade finance.

Further information is available at http://www.bba. org.uk/media/article/business-finance-taskforce.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: In March 2010, Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) agreed to legally binding lending commitments. These commitments will see both banks lend a total of £94 billion to businesses on commercial terms, over the 12 months to February 2011.

At the Budget in June 2010, the Chancellor announced proposals to help ensure the flow of credit to businesses. These include increasing the Enterprise Finance Guarantee by £200 million to enable additional lending of up to £700 million for small businesses until 31 March 2011 and the launch of a new Enterprise Capital Fund, to provide an extra £37.5 million in equity finance for small businesses with high growth potential.

The Government published a Green Paper on business finance in July, to help inform and take forward their agenda on credit and other sources of finance for businesses. This paper discussed the current conditions of bank lending to small and medium sized businesses.

Further information about the Green Paper is available at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/businessfinance. The consultation period for the Green Paper closed on 20 September and the Government will comment on responses in due course.

In response to the Government's Green Paper on business finance, the British Bankers' Association has recently published the outcomes of its business finance taskforce, which was written in conjunction with the six major UK banks. The taskforce banks have committed to improving customer relationships through a new lending code, ensuring better access to finance and promoting better understanding.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA249

In order to ensure better access to finance, the taskforce banks have agreed to establish and invest in a new £1.5 billion business growth fund, which will provide capital to growing businesses. The taskforce has also announced that it would support the government Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme, which supports lending to viable businesses with insufficient collateral and track record. Through awareness-raising campaigns and other measures, the taskforce has also committed to help mid-sized businesses access syndicated debt markets and to improve access to trade finance.

The Government welcome these important first steps proposed by the banks.

Further information is available at: http://www.bba. org.uk/media/article/business-finance-taskforce.

BBC: Accounts

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

Baroness Rawlings: The Government are committed to giving the National Audit Office (NAO) full access to the BBC's accounts to ensure transparency. The Government announced on 22 September that they had reached agreement with the BBC Trust on the NAO having full access to the BBC's accounts.

Whether the NAO is appointed as the BBC's auditor is a matter for the BBC and NAO. The Government do not consider this to be central to delivering the Government commitment.

BBC: Salaries

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Rawlings: This is a matter for the BBC Trust and the Government have not made an assessment.

Under the terms of the BBC's charter, it is the responsibility of the BBC Trust to ensure that the BBC delivers value-for-money to licence fee payers. The BBC should be prepared to defend all its expenditure decisions.

Children: Nurseries

Question

Asked by Lord Northbourne



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The early years foundation stage came into force in September 2008.

Table 1 shows the number of children taking up early education places in England from 2008 to 2010.

Table 1 : Number of children1 taking up early education places2
England
2008- 2010
Position in January each year
YearNumber of childrenIncrease from Previous yearPercentage increase from previous year

2008

1,199,800

34,800

3.0%

2009

1,221,400

21,600

1.8%

2010

1,258,500

37,100

3.0%

The table presented in this answer includes private, voluntary, and independent providers, as well as maintained nursery and primary schools and special schools. Table 1 of the "Provision for children under five years of age in England: January 2010" Statistical First Release, available on the department's website (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000935/index.shtml) provides a time series of the figures broken down by type of provider.

Civil Service: Redundancy

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Allowing higher levels of voluntary payments allows for earlier exits and therefore savings to the Exchequer. It also minimises the number of compulsory redundancies which need to be made, which is an objective of this Government.

Consumer Focus

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): In a Written Ministerial Statement on 14 October, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced changes to the UK consumer and competition bodies.

In that Statement he outlined proposals including the transfer of the functions of Consumer Focus to the national bodies for the citizens advice service in England and Wales and in Scotland.

BIS is now discussing implementation with the consumer bodies including Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland and with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments. As also announced by the Secretary of State, BIS will consult publicly on the main elements of the proposals in the new year.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): I will be considering the issues involved in implementing the right to recovery legislation as part of a wider review of the reparation that offenders can make to victims.

Drugs: Ultra-orphan Diseases

Question

Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): This is a matter for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an independent body.

In January 2009, NICE issued supplementary advice to its appraisal committees on the appraisal of life-extending end-of-life drugs. In developing the advice, NICE took account of the Citizens' Council's views on the circumstances in which it may be appropriate to recommend a treatment where the cost per quality adjusted life year is above the normal threshold range.



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Elections: Fraud

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government do not keep statistics on prosecutions for breaches of election law in England and Wales. The figures cited below are extracted from reports prepared by the Electoral Commission rather than from central government records. Accordingly, those reports do not necessarily constitute a complete record of the number of prosecutions during the period referred to.

With regard to the General Election of 2005, the Electoral Commission's report Allegations of electoral malpractice in England and Wales 2000-2006 gives details of allegations of electoral malpractice in relation to offences under the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1983 during that period. The report found that in 2005, there were 59 allegations.

The Electoral Commission's report Further analysis of CPS files on allegations of electoral malpractice in England and Wales 2000-2006 gives details of prosecutions for electoral malpractice under the RPA 1983 during that period. The report found that there was one conviction in 2005, though noted that convictions do not necessarily occur in the same year that proceedings are initiated. Though statistics are not recorded on prosecutions brought under common law fraud offences in England and Wales, I am aware that subsequently five people were convicted under the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud at the 2005 General Election in the Bradford West constituency and all received a custodial sentence.

With regard to the Scottish Parliament election of 2007 and the Scottish local government elections of 2007, I understand that there have been no prosecutions for fraud under the RPA 1983. When bringing common law fraud charges, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland cannot differentiate between

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different types of fraud. Therefore no information is available in relation to any electoral fraud that might have been prosecuted under common law.

With regard to the Welsh Assembly election of 2007, and local government elections in England in 2007, the Electoral Commission's report Electoral malpractice in England and Wales-2007 trends found that at the 2007 elections 129 allegations of electoral malpractice were recorded in England and Wales. I am aware that subsequently six people were convicted of committing a number of electoral offences at the May 2007 local government elections in Slough and all received a custodial sentence. Charges that were brought against some of these six individuals also included the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud.

At elections in 2008, 2009 and 2010 there was systematic monitoring by the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) of allegations of electoral malpractice reported to the police during the election period.

With regard to local government elections in England and Wales in 2008, the Electoral Commission and ACPO report Allegations of electoral malpractice at the May 2008 elections in England and Wales found that one case led to prosecution, which resulted in the conviction of one person on a charge of making a false application to vote by proxy and a fine of £1,015.

With regard to the European elections of 2009 and local government elections in England in 2009, the Electoral Commission and ACPO report Analysis of allegations of electoral malpractice at the June 2009 elections found that two people pleaded guilty to three charges of false registration and other non-electoral fraud charges in Bournemouth, and each received a sentence of one month's imprisonment for the registration offences. The commission found that, in mid-December 2009, one person pleaded guilty to two charges of personation at the European parliamentary and local government elections in Cannock, and was sentenced to four months in prison. The commission's report also provided updated information about the outcome of allegations of fraud at the May 2008 elections. The report found that a further two cases relating to the May 2008 elections had led to charges or prosecutions meaning that three cases in total relating to the May 2008 elections had led to charges or prosecutions. The first additional case resulted in two people pleading guilty to personation at a polling station, and were both given the maximum community service order penalty of 300 hours. In the second additional case, charges were brought against one person for two false applications to vote by proxy. This person has now been found guilty and was sentenced in August 2010 to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months.

With regard to local government elections in England in 2010, the Electoral Commission has indicated that it will publish verified data and analysis on the extent and nature of cases of electoral malpractice reported during 2010, including the May 2010 UK General Election and local government elections, in January 2011. This will include an update on any unresolved cases that were previously reported and unresolved.



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Energy: Nuclear Industry

Question

Asked by Baroness Thornton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Under health and safety law, it is the responsibility of operators of nuclear facilities to ensure that the health and safety of their employees is safeguarded. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides advice and guidance to nuclear operators, and other employers, to assist them in this task. HSE can also take appropriate enforcement action to secure compliance with health and safety law.

The Health Protection Agency provides an integrated approach to protecting UK public health. The agency provides support and advice to HSE on radiation protection matters. The Government have announced that, on abolition of the agency, its functions will be transferred to the new Public Health Service.

Energy: Nuclear Waste

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): It is for the owners of spent nuclear fuel to decide whether or not to reprocess it in order to recover reusable nuclear materials. There are, however, some technological constrains and spent fuel from MAGNOX reactors is reprocessed because there is currently no alternative means of dealing with it.

The NDA also has existing commercial contracts with both overseas and UK reactor operators to reprocess other spent fuel through THORP. The NDA will continue to manage these contracts taking into account the most appropriate use of the existing plant and their resources.

In the case of new nuclear the plans are still as set out in the 2008 White Paper on nuclear power and are, "any new nuclear power stations that might be built in the UK should proceed on the basis that spent fuel will not be reprocessed and that plans for, and financing of, waste management should proceed on this basis".

Government are not currently expecting any proposals to reprocess spent fuel from new nuclear power stations, but should such proposals come forward in the future, we would consider them on their merits at the time.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA255

It is also worth noting that the price of uranium is only a small factor in the overall running costs of a nuclear power station and by itself might not be enough of a concern for reactor operators to consider reprocessing an economical option. However, the Government intend to keep this issue under review with the NDA.

Energy: Tidal Generation

Question

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The department will publish the report shortly.

Equality Act 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): There is an understanding that infringement proceedings are a confidential matter between the European Commission and member states. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment on this particular reasoned opinion. As a matter of routine, my department is able to draw on legal advice as and when necessary.

Finance: Clearing Houses

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK hosts multiple clearing houses offering foreign currency denominated clearing including in euros. There is no obligation to have access to central bank liquidity in order to offer these clearing services and in all cases the Financial Services Authority requires that appropriate risk management controls are in place.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA256

Finance: Derivatives

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In Europe, the bulk of the G20 policy agenda on post-trade infrastructure will be addressed through the proposed European Markets Infrastructure Regulation.

On 15 September the European Commission published a proposal for this regulation which covers issues relating to organisational and risk management standards for central clearing counterparties. The aim is to harmonise standards for clearing houses operating across Europe, allowing them to interoperate thus creating a competitive market for clearing services.

Financial Services: Equities

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave him on 16 June (Official Report, col. WA 115). Formal proposals for the revised markets in financial instruments directive are expected to be published by the European Commission in early 2011.

Fluoridation

Questions

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I remain of the view that the references quoted in the consultation document enable users of the internet to access the information needed to evaluate these contributions.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA257

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

Earl Howe: Yes, we are planning to issue new guidance based on all the evidence now available after the outcome is known of the judicial review of South Central Strategic Health Authority's decision to fluoridate Southampton and parts of south-west Hampshire. We will be consulting interested organisations and individuals about the guidance including the noble Earl.

Food: Institutions

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Making direct comparisons of food delivery and costs between different services is difficult and can often be misleading. This is because there are so many variances between what is provided and when, how it is served, the take-up rate, the population being provided for and what freedom consumers have in choosing alternative sources of meals.

Currently, therefore, there are no plans or a resource allocation to fund a study as suggested.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are unable to comment on whether or when legal advice has been sought/given.

However, I can reassure the noble Baroness that we followed this incident closely, that our consular staff remained in regular contact with the families of those British Nationals on board and that we offered consular

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assistance to the British participants on arrival in Israel. Those detained by Israel were voluntarily deported on 29 September.

Following the tragedy of the Mavi Marmara incident, when nine Turkish nationals were killed by Israeli security forces, we have repeatedly made it clear to Israel that it is a matter of grave concern that Israeli actions should have ended in such heavy and tragic loss of life.

Asked by Lord Warner

Baroness Verma: UN agencies and non-governmental organisations have published a number of reports on the health of children in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead. These show that many children still suffer traumatic stress and that their health is compromised by declining public health service provision, unclean water and a lack of necessary micro-nutrients in food. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides education for 222,000 children in Gaza, reports that schools are overcrowded and children must attend in shifts.

Following Operation Cast Lead the UK Government spent £24.8 million on humanitarian assistance. This included the clearance of unexploded ordnance to allow children to return to school, counselling for traumatised children, the building of safe play areas, and improvement to services for pregnant women, new mothers and babies. UK funding also provided food aid and clean water for families in most need. We also provided £5 million to UNRWA specifically to improve education services in Gaza.

The UK and European Union (EU) are major donors to UNRWA. Our ongoing support to UNRWA's core budget helps provide food aid, social services, healthcare and education to refugees in Gaza and across the region. So far this year the UK Government have provided £19 million support. This has helped provide food aid to nearly 1 million Gazans; schooling for almost 480,000 children across the region, and primary healthcare to refugees across the region through 138 clinics with 9.5 million annual patient visits.

The UK and the EU continue to press Israel to allow reconstruction in Gaza and further to relax restrictions on movement and access into and out of Gaza. On 16 September the European Council called for full implementation of the measures to improve access announced by Israel in June and complementary measures, in order to achieve a fundamental change of policy that will allow for reconstruction and the economic recovery of Gaza.

Asked by Lord Warner

Baroness Verma: The UK is funding the UN Access Co-ordination Unit (ACU) which works with the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and aid agencies to facilitate the transfer of goods into Gaza, including essential equipment and construction materials for sanitation networks. ACU works closely with the emergency water sanitation and hygiene group, which represents over 30 organisations working on water, sanitation and hygiene in the occupied Palestinian territories. In mid-September 250 tonnes of construction materials entered Gaza for the upgrade of the sewage treatment plant at Sheikh Aljin which will reduce the run-off of sewage into the Mediterranean Sea. The UK continues to press Israel and the Palestinian Authority to increase co-ordination and process applications the import of essential materials more quickly, in order to ensure further improvements to the Gazan sanitation system.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Verma: There are a number of actual or potential desalination projects in or near Khan Younis, including small privately-owned plants. We are not aware of any specific obstacles to their development and the Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) has not raised the issue of supplies for desalination plants with the Government of Israel. We continue to work closely with the OQR, UN agencies and other partners to support improvements in access to Gaza for items for approved reconstruction projects, and all items not on the Government of Israel's list of prohibited imports.

GMT: Clock Change

Questions

Asked by Lord Tanlaw

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): This is a devolved matter, for the Scottish Executive.

Asked by Lord Tanlaw



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA260

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has made no such assessment.

The implications of a possible move to single double summer time remain under active consideration. The Prime Minister made clear in August this year that such a change can be considered only with the agreement of all parts of the United Kingdom including Scotland.

Government Departments: Salaries

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): If pay were frozen for the next four years, including progression increments, the cost would be the same as it currently is and there would be no net saving. The June Budget, in which the Chancellor announced the two year public sector pay freeze, exempted from the freeze staff earning less than a full-time equivalent salary of £21,000 who are to receive an annual salary increase of £250. This increases the pay bill slightly over the period.

It is not possible to say what the pay bill of HM Treasury would have been without the two year pay freeze as there was no existing agreement covering the relevant period.

Asked by Lord Newby

Earl Attlee: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) estimates that it could make net savings of approximately £1.09 million in its current pay bill if all salaries and increments are frozen over the next four years (2011-12 to 2014-15) and the current staff configuration remains unchanged over this period.

The year on year breakdown of estimated savings are set out below:

2011/12

£0.21 million

2012/13

£0.26 million

2013/14

£0.30 million

2014/15

£0.32 million

The HM Treasury GDP deflator of 31 March 2010 has been used as the basis for determining projected pay inflation over the period under consideration.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: In 2010, following the Government's announcement, the Cabinet Office entered a two-year pay freeze for salaries and increments of all staff earning over £21,000.

Eight per cent of staff, who earned £21,000 or less, received an increment in their pay in the year ending 5 April. The estimated percentage increase in the department's pay bill as a result of these awards is 0.05 per cent, which equates to an increase of approximately £50,000.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): For the department, 2010-11 is the third year of a legally binding three-year settlement for staff below the Senior Civil Service (SCS). A two-year pay freeze for these staff will be entered in 2011-12. For the SCS, base pay was frozen in 2010-11.

Staff below the SCS received consolidated pay progression in 2010-11 in respect of performance in 2009-10, with the amount of consolidated progression dependent on position in the pay scale. Overall 2,347 non-SCS staff (87 per cent) received a consolidated increase in August 2010.

The total estimated increase in the department's pay bill for 2010-11 (including national insurance and pension contributions) arising from consolidated pay progression is £4,619,293. This represents a 3.04 per cent increase in the department's pay bill.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The information requested is set out below.

Ministry of Justice (excluding National Offender Management Service (NOMS))

The Ministry of Justice staff, below Senior Civil Service, received a pay award on 1 August 2010 in accordance with a multi-year pay award negotiated in 2007. As part of this award 8,556 staff received incremental progression. This represents 31 per cent of staff in the ministry.



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The estimated percentage and money increase in the Ministry of Justice pay bill, excluding Senior Civil Service, solely due to increments for the year ending 5 April 2011, disregarding promotions or general increases, is 0.9 per cent and £6.5 million. This assumes no recyclables and is based on salary as at 31 July 2010.

National Offender Management Service

NOMS staff received a pay award on 1 April 2010. As part of this award 25,232.7 staff (full-time equivalent) received incremental progression. This represents 51.6 per cent of staff in NOMS.

The estimated percentage and money increase in NOMS pay bill solely due to increments for the year ending 5 April 2011, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales, is circa 2.5 per cent and circa £44 million. This assumes no recyclables, is based on 2009 pay scales and full-time equivalent staff as at March 2010.

Senior Civil Service

The information above relates to staff in grades below the Senior Civil Service. For the Senior Civil Service, consolidated pay has been frozen in 2010-11 and no increments were/will be paid for the year ending 5 April 2011.

The Ministry of Justice including NOMS will enter into the two-year pay freeze in 2011-12 in line with other public sector workforces.

Asked by Lord Newby

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Following the spending review settlement for BIS, detailed workforce plans and pay bill allocations, on which such estimates would be based, are being developed and finalised. We are therefore currently unable to provide estimates of savings for the years in question.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The pay bill cost for the Cabinet Office as at 31 March 2010, as published in the annual resource accounts for 2009-10, is £92,256,000.

In 2010, following the Government's announcement, the Cabinet Office entered a two-year pay freeze for salaries and increments of all staff earning over £21, 000.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA263

Any annual increase to pay bill cost in the department is governed by Her Majesty's Treasury's remit guidance and in collective negotiation with departmental trade unions. It is therefore not possible accurately to estimate any net saving to the Cabinet Office pay bill for future years.

Government: Ministerial Visits

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Departments are committed to publishing on a quarterly basis details of their Ministers' overseas travel. Information for travel made in September will be published as soon as it is collated. Information in respect of civil servants, including special advisers, is not held centrally and to collect the information would involve disproportionate costs.

Gypsies and Travellers

Question

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In taking forward the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's concluding observations, the Government are working with a number of groups to address issues affecting Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. These include:

the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Education Stakeholder Group-its membership has been drawn from representatives of all three communities working in the education sector and from community liaison groups. It includes parents, teachers, governors and a former director of children's services and is chaired by Lord Avebury. Its aim is to engage in awareness raising, changing attitudes and behaviours and supporting work to improve levels of ascription, attendance, transition and attainment to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils;the National Association of Teachers of Travellers and other professions (NATT+)-they were funded to arrange events in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11. The funding has enabled the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community groups to build their own capacity to source funding, and to plan and deliver the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller months themselves in future;

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the Rural Media Company and funding the Travellers Times online website;the National Foundation for Educational Research. The Department for Education funded a study into improving educational outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Children; andthe Advisory Council for the Education of Romany and other Travellers (ACERT).

Health Protection Agency

Question

Asked by Lord Turnberg

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We do not anticipate a loss of trust or independence in the Health Protection Agency's present functions by the public or professionals.

Health: Drugs

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA265

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Primodos first became available in the United Kingdom in 1959 and was discontinued in 1978. Primodos was used as a hormonal pregnancy test and for the treatment of various gynaecological complaints.

The licensed dose of Primodos as a pregnancy test was one tablet on each of two consecutive days. Each Primodos tablet contained two sex hormones, a progestogen (norethisterone acetate, 10 milligrams) and an oestrogen (ethinylestradiol, 0.02 milligrams).

No licensed medicines currently available in the UK contain norethisterone acetate and ethinylestradiol at the same doses as Primodos.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has no information on the number of children who were born with disabilities to mothers who took Primodos during pregnancy. A total of three reports of suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in association with Primodos (spina bifida, cleft palate, congenital abnormality and pre-eclampsia) via the UK's Yellow Card Scheme are on the MHRA database. None of these cases reported the dose that was administered to the patient. As of 13 October 2010 the MHRA had received a total of 32 UK spontaneous "suspected" ADR reports associated with the combination of the drug ingredients norethisterone and ethinylestradiol (other than Primodos) which describe a congenital abnormality. These reports were received over a period of 45 years.

The former Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) advised on the safety of a number of hormonal preparations, including Primodos in 1975 and 1977. The CSM letters and the minutes from the CSM meeting have been placed in the Library. The advice of the CSM was that these hormonal preparations should not be indicated for, or promoted as, a pregnancy test; that a warning about a possible hazard in pregnancy should be inserted in all promotional literature; and that pregnant women should not use these products.

In the absence of any significant new scientific evidence that has become available since Primodos was discontinued, a meeting such as that suggested would be unlikely to benefit any of those concerned. Local clinicians and multidisciplinary teams assess the health and care needs of people who consider that they have been adversely affected by Primodos or other hormonal pregnancy tests. The MHRA therefore has no current plans to meet members of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests, people suspected to have been adversely affected by the drug Primodos, or with the pharmaceutical company, Bayer.

A large number of medicines currently available in the UK contain norethisterone and ethinylestradiol. These are licensed for hormone replacement therapy, contraception, various gynaecological conditions and in the treatment of some cancers. When used for oral contraception the doses of norethisterone and ethinylestradiol are lower than Primodos. Norethisterone is also currently available as progestogen-only contraception. In common with all licensed medicines, warnings relating to potential side effects of medicines that contain norethisterone and ethinylestradiol are

26 Oct 2010 : Column WA266

provided in the patient information leaflet that accompanies each medicine, including information about use in pregnancy. All medicines on the UK market are continuously monitored to ensure the benefits outweigh the risks.

Primolut N is one of the norethisterone-containing medicines currently available in the UK. Primolut N tablets are licensed for use in a range of gynaecological conditions and contain five milligrams of norethisterone, a progestogenic sex hormone. Advice and warnings relating to potential side effects of Primolut N are provided in the summary of product characteristics for health care professionals, and the patient information leaflet that accompanies each packet of medicine. As with all medicines used in the UK, the MHRA, together with advice from an independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines, keeps the safety of Primolut N under continuous review. The MHRA is not aware of any current safety issues with Primolut N.

Healthcare: Language Competency Tests

Questions

Asked by Viscount Bridgeman

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): For European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, discussions are currently underway with the General Medical Council and the European Commission and other organisations concerning the issue of language competency. We are also exploring how the proposed National Health Service Commissioning Board might oversee a more effective system for undertaking checks on the language knowledge of primary care practitioners.

For overseas doctors from outside the EEA registration procedures including any checks on the language competency of a professional are a matter for relevant regulatory bodies, though employers are still able to satisfy themselves as to the individual's language skills.

Asked by Viscount Bridgeman

Earl Howe: The Government have no plans to change their guidance note on the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC in the United Kingdom for health and social care professionals, which provides guidance to the healthcare regulatory bodies about the obligation placed on them by the directive, including the requirements of Article 53.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA267

Asked by Lord Patel of Blackburn

Earl Howe: European law prevents language competency tests prior to registration of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. Doctors from South Asia and Afro-Caribbean countries are not covered by the relevant provisions (EU Directive 2005/36/EC) and therefore the registration procedures for migrants from South Asia and Afro-Caribbean are a matter for the General Medical Council.

An employer or a contracting authority should satisfy themselves of a candidate's skills and competencies, including their ability to communicate to the required standard for the post. Clear guidance has been issued to NHS bodies on this issue. This applies equally where a candidate is from the EEA.

Housing: Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government believe that stability in house prices is important for wider macroeconomic stability. The Government will continue to monitor housing market developments and form future policy accordingly. The Government will also work with the Bank of England to investigate including housing costs in the CPI measure of inflation.

Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK Government have not made any representations on the effect of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission treatment of booked out forward contracts as regards UK insurers and reinsurers. We have discussed the matter with industry and believe representations to be unnecessary at this time.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA268

International Monetary Fund

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK Government fully support reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In particular, for the IMF to be legitimate in the eyes of all its members, it must be representative of the modern global economy. This means giving a greater say for the dynamic emerging markets and developing countries that are currently under-represented at the fund. All over-represented countries, including those in Europe, should contribute to this shift.

The UK would also support a review of the fund's current voting rules as part of a broader reform package. This should also include a greater role for Ministers in providing strategic guidance to the fund, a reconfiguration of the IMF's executive board and the implementation of an open, transparent and merit-based appointment process for the heads and senior leadership of all international financial institutions.

Israel

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

Baroness Verma: I refer the noble Lord to my Written Answer of 18 October 2010 (Official Report, col. WA113). Since this date, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has reported that the Israeli authorities have withdrawn approval for another one of the eight new school projects, giving a total of four schools for which approval remains valid, and four from which approval has been withdrawn. UNRWA is working with the Israeli authorities to resolve this issue and expects that some of the materials required will begin to enter Gaza shortly.

The UK Government regularly discuss Gaza access issues with the United States and European Union partners. UK officials also pressed for early progress on UNRWA's school projects during the ad hoc liaison committee donor meeting on 21 September in New York. In response, Israeli officials reported that Israel had not delayed approval for the import of the necessary materials.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA269

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Verma: According to reports issued by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 18 per cent of the total area of the West Bank is closed for Israeli military use. We agree with OCHA's assessment that these restrictions exacerbate water shortages faced by Palestinians living in area C of the West Bank. Other causes include lack of rainfall in recent years, inadequate infrastructure and inequitable distribution of water resources.

Local Improvement Finance Trusts

Question

Asked by Lord Mawson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is currently examining primary and community estates issues, including Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) related considerations, arising from the White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. Any necessary actions will be announced when they have been determined.

LIFT is a series of public-private partnerships between primary care trusts (PCTs) and private sector companies. Subject to parliamentary approval, PCTs are to be abolished from April 2013, and we are carefully examining the most appropriate arrangements for managing existing LIFT rights and obligations once this reorganisation has happened.

Through using the investment, innovation and creativity of the private sector, LIFT has provided very valuable support to the National Health Service in planning and modernising its property. The Government recognise this contribution and, in particular, the valuable expertise that private sector partners have brought to the programme.

Millennium Development Goals

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government regret that they had to dissociate from consensus on the recent UN Human Rights Council resolution on safe drinking water and sanitation.

The resolution recognised "the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation". The UK's position is that there exists a right to water as an element of the right to an adequate standard of living (Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), but that there is no basis in international law for recognising a human right to sanitation at this time. The Government believe that recognising rights without due international consideration of what they comprise creates unhelpful ambiguity. Individuals cannot know what they can legitimately claim from the state and the state has no clear understanding of the protection it is obliged to afford to the individual.

As part of their efforts to support achievement of the millennium development goals, the Government will prioritise aid spending on programmes to ensure that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. However, the policy priority we attach to improving sanitation should not lead us to recognise a new legal right without due regard to the structure of international human rights law.

National Coal Board: Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The department is unable to confirm the number of surface worker only claims which have been compensated under the British Coal respiratory disease litigation, due to fraud or an administrative error, as no such claims have been identified through the department's internal and external audits. The department simply acknowledges that, given the number of claims processed through that scheme, it cannot rule out the possibility of claims having been paid as a result of fraud or an administrative error. However, should the department be advised of any claims

which were registered under the BCRDL CHA;in which a miner only worked upon the surface of a mine; andin which compensation was paid

it will investigate the specific details of the claim. If, in any such claim, it transpires that there has been a fraud then it will seek legal advice on recovering the sums paid.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA271

National Lottery

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The amounts raised (including investment income) for the non-Olympic good causes in the past three completed financial years are set out in this table:

£mTotal amount raisedAmount transferred to OlympicsNet amount available to non-Olympic good causes

07-08

1,302

-

1,302

08-09

1,312

(73)

1,239

09-10

1,492

(292)

1,200

In addition, the National Lottery has raised the following amounts (including investment income) for the Olympic good cause:

£mProceeds from sale of dedicated Olympic lottery gamesAmount transferred from the non-Olympic good causesTotal

07-08

151

-

151

08-09

138

73

211

09-10

87

292

379

NHS: Primary Care Trusts

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The current rules governing the sale of National Health Service assets will continue to apply to primary care trusts (PCTs) prior to their dissolution. Guidance on the disposal of NHS owned land and buildings is contained in Health Building Note 00-08: Estatecode, which has already been placed in the Library. In the majority of cases, where an NHS asset is surplus to requirements, it is sold at the best price reasonably obtainable in the market. This should protect the value of assets when disposals occur.

PCT property asset disposals are being held in abeyance while the department is currently examining the implications for the management and ownership of the estate following the dissolution of PCTs in 2013. An option appraisal of the various alternatives is being undertaken for consideration by Ministers. The outcome of this process will be announced shortly.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA272

Northern Ireland Office: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Non-consolidated performance payments in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) for 2009-10 were made to staff at Grades D2 to A and to staff in the Senior Civil Service in line with Cabinet Office and HM Treasury Guidance. 559 staff received non-consolidated performance payments, totalling £599,010, rewarding performance throughout the 2009-10 reporting year. This equates to approximately 28 per cent of eligible staff.

Under a separate scheme, special performance payments were also awarded to staff in the year 2009-10. 864 of staff received these payments, totalling £226,159. This equates to approximately 43 per cent of eligible staff.

These figures reflect the department prior to the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 12 April 2010.

Northern Ireland Office: Cars

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Following devolution comparable figures for the department as it is now configured are no longer available.

Transport from the car pool is made available to staff in the department when official business requires it.

Northern Ireland Office: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) was reconfigured following the completion of devolution on 12 April 2010. There is no longer a political directorate in the department. Details of

26 Oct 2010 : Column WA273

the department's current organisational structure, including staffing levels, are published on the Cabinet Office website at http://download.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/structure/Northern-Ireland-Office-Organisation-Chart.pdf. The department's baseline for this year is £25.9 million. That will be reduced by 25 per cent in real terms over the next four years as part of the current spending review.

Prior to devolution, the political directorate in the Northern Ireland Office had the objective of supporting the Secretary of State on political matters in Northern Ireland. Details of staffing levels and expenditure of all departmental directorates were routinely recorded in the annual departmental reports, copies of which were laid in Parliament and are also published on the NIO's website at www.nio.gov.uk.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury does not hold up-to-date data on the median pensions in payment or median lengths of service on which those pensions are based. However, table 1.0 of the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission's interim report, published on 7 October 2010, provides a breakdown of median figures for the largest public service pension schemes. The table can be found on the HM Treasury website at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/hutton_ pensionsinterim_071010.pdf.

Prisoners: Smoking

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): In public sector prisons in England and Wales new inmates are not given a welcome pack containing cigarettes. They are provided with the opportunity to purchase a reception pack on arrival. There is a choice of packs with options for smokers and non-smokers. Packs for smokers contain rolling tobacco and papers, but no cigarettes are offered. If a prisoner decides to purchase a reception pack including tobacco then this is their choice, and they must pay the recommended retail price for it using their own money.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA274

Refugee and Migrant Justice

Questions

Asked by Lord Avebury



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA275

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The 64 providers that were in breach of the fixed fee margin (FFM) KPI for asylum cases in 2009-10 were paid £3.01 million (less disbursements and VAT). £14.88 million was paid in 2009-10 (less disbursements and VAT) in graduated fees for asylum cases. The 54 providers that were in breach of the FFM KPI for immigration cases in 2009-10 were paid £3.97 million (less disbursements and VAT). £13.70 million was paid in 2009-10 (less disbursements and VAT) in graduated fees for immigration cases. 12,461 matter starts were allocated to the 64 asylum providers that were in breach of the FFM KPI for asylum cases in 2009-10. This number would not have wholly or even substantially been used for graduated fee matters and could have been used for hourly rate matters as well. 14,242 matter starts were allocated to the 54 immigration providers that were in breach of the FFM KPI for asylum cases in 2009-10. This number would not have wholly or even substantially been used for graduated fee matters and could have been used for hourly rate matters as well.

Schools: Design

Question

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We have not carried out assessments of the design quality of modular buildings.

Schools: Special Educational Needs

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The available information is shown in the table.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA276

Number of pupils(1)(2) in England that have a hearing impairment -January 2010
Number of pupils for whom primary type of need is hearing impairment(3)
Pupils stage of SEN assessment
School action plusStatement of SENTotal

Maintained nursery schools

40

20

50

Maintained primary schools(4)

4,490

2,740

7,230

State-funded secondary schools(4)(5)

4,590

2,140

6,730

Maintained special schools(6)

20

740

760

Non maintained special schools

10

800

810

Pupil referral units

x

10

10

Total

9,140

6,440

15,580

Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Prime Minister committed to supporting progress towards a southern energy corridor through Turkey to the EU when he met the Turkish Prime Minister in July 2010. The Minister of State for Energy will reiterate this support when he meets the Turkish Energy Minister as part of the UK-Turkey Energy Dialogue in November 2010.

Unemployment

Question

Asked by Lord Knight of Weymouth



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA277

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The only reliable international data on workless households are from Eurostat. Comparable data for the G20 and the G7 are not available.

Accurate figures on the proportion of workless households are not available, but figures on the proportion of individuals living in workless households are available.

The table below shows the proportion of individuals aged 18-59 years old living in workless households in the European Union in 2009.

Proportion of persons aged 18-59 who are living in households where no-one works (%)

European Union (27)

10.1

Belgium

12.8

Bulgaria

9.7

Czech Republic

6.7

Denmark

:

Germany

9.2

Estonia

10.4

Ireland

12.9

Greece

8.5

Spain

10.8

France

10.5

Italy

10.4

Cyprus

5.6

Latvia

10.5

Lithuania

12.0

Luxembourg

7.3

Hungary

13.1

Malta

8.3

Netherlands

6.0

Austria

7.3

Poland

10.2

Portugal

6.7

Romania

10.9

Slovenia

7.5

Slovakia

8.2

Sweden

:

Finland

:

United Kingdom

11.5

Violence against Children

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The United Nations Special Representative on Violence Against Children and her office are funded through voluntary contributions. The UK does not contribute directly to this fund and has no confirmed plans to do so.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA278

The UK provides considerable financial support to the UN's work on human rights. This is through our regular contribution to the United Nations budget and through our voluntary contribution to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Our voluntary contribution to the OHCHR totalled in excess of £2.5 million in each of 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Visas

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) advises Government on shortage occupations. Meat cutters and chefs were included in the shortage occupation list under the previous Administration. The Government's consultation on the introduction of an annual limit on those admitted to work in the UK from outside the European Union-including the future of the shortage occupation list-closed in September. The Government will bring forward their proposals in due course.

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The medical profession is internationally mobile and the number of non-United Kingdom trained doctors finding employment in the UK will vary by specialty and geography, reflecting service demands and the flows of UK doctors. The department is working with the UK Border Agency on its proposals to limit net migration to the UK.

There are no immediate plans for a review of medical training capacity in universities. Overall, the supply and demand for specialty training programmes appears to be well balanced and there are sufficient training opportunities to match the numbers coming through from foundation programmes.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Neville-Jones: The work permit arrangements were replaced in November 2008 as part of the introduction of the points-based system (PBS). Since that time, employers have issued certificates of sponsorship to workers they wish to sponsor from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

On 28 June this year the Home Secretary announced the Government's intention to limit the number of workers entering the UK from outside the EEA from April 2011.



26 Oct 2010 : Column WA280

On 19 July we introduced an interim limit on the highly skilled (tier 1 general) and skilled (tier 2 general) worker routes of the PBS.

The interim limit has been set at 2009 levels for tier 1 (general) applications from outside the UK. There is no limit on the number of tier 1 (general) applications made within the UK.

The interim limit for tier 2 (general) has been set at 6 per cent below 2009 levels. In implementing the interim limit, the UK Border Agency reduced the number of certificates of sponsorship (CoS) available to each sponsor.

There is currently no limit on tier 4, the student route of the PBS. We have, however, committed to undertake a thorough review of all student routes including tier 4.


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