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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Astor of Hever on 4 November (WA 427), how 12 per cent more flying hours per aircraft per month are being achieved by the GR4 when the GR9 availability rates were reported at 96 per cent.[HL3812]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The greater flying hours for Tornado results from its greater endurance and ability to undertake an increased number of operational tasks. The Tornado has wider utility in the intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance role, in addition to its close air support capabilities, and is therefore tasked more frequently and over a wider geographical area than the Harrier.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority is consulting on implementation of the capital requirements directive disclosure requirements, which come into force on 1 January 2011. The directive requires firms to make disclosures regarding capital and risk and includes requirements for narrative and quantitative disclosure on pay policy and practices. This will help to inform institutional investors' decisions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what hardship payments will be available to families receiving benefits with (a) one child, (b), two children, or (c) three children or more, who have received a financial sanction of (1) three months, (2) six months, or (3) three years.[HL4182]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Hardship support is available to jobseeker's allowance (JSA) claimants who are sanctioned for failing to meet reasonable work-related requirements where they can show that they or their dependants will be in significant need if such payments are not made.
The universal credit White Paper made clear that we will continue to make hardship payments to protect more vulnerable households on JSA and extend the principle of hardship into employment and support allowance (ESA). For others on JSA, we are considering making payments in the form of loans and for shorter periods to increase their incentives to meet the conditions of their benefit.
Sanctions apply only to the personal allowance (that is, to JSA or ESA or a broadly equivalent amount under universal credit). They do not affect child benefit, child tax credits, council tax benefit or housing benefit, which continue to be paid in the event of sanctions. Therefore the number of children in the care of a claimant is not relevant to determining the value of their hardship payment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House the minutes of the October 2010 United Kingdom-United States Political Military Talks on the British Indian Ocean Territory.[HL4368]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The record of the UK/US Political-Military talks on the British Indian Ocean Territory held in October is still in draft. The document is considered to be jointly owned with the US Government and is classified. It would not therefore be appropriate to place a copy in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to take measures to promote reconciliation in Burma between the military junta, and Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy party, and the restoration of democracy and freedom to the people of Burma.[HL4225]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government fully support Aung San Suu Kyi's call for reconciliation and a fully inclusive dialogue. We urge the military regime to respond positively to her request for talks and to co-operate with the UN.
It is clear that the 7 November elections were a sham and reflect a regime intent on entrenching its grip on power. There can be no prospect of national reconciliation until the regime complies with the international community's long-standing demands for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, greater respect for human rights and a genuine dialogue with all opposition groups, including Aung San Suu
30 Nov 2010 : Column WA427
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, to which the United Kingdom is a party, apply to the Cayman Islands; and, if so, what steps have been taken to implement them there.[HL4202]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether shipments of genetically modified mosquito eggs by the Oxford-based biotechnology company Oxitec to the Grand Cayman Island for use in experimental field trials in 2009 and 2010 were treated as exports of genetically modified organisms under (a) Regulation (EC) No. 1946/2003 on the transboundary movements of genetically modified organisms, and (b) the Cartagena Protocol.[HL4203]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in field trials conducted by the Cayman Islands' Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) in 2009 and in May and October 2010 were subject to the provisions of (a) European Union regulations, and (b) the Cartagena Protocol.[HL4204]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The UK's instrument of ratification of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety has not been extended to the Cayman Islands. As such, the provisions of the protocol regarding the transboundary movement of genetically modified (GM) organisms are not applicable to the shipment of GM mosquitoes from the UK to the Cayman Islands, a non-party. Overseas territories are encouraged to become party to the UK's ratification of multilateral environmental agreements, but ultimately this is a matter for them to decide.
However, the shipment of the GM mosquito eggs from the UK was subject to the requirements of Regulation (EC) 1946/2003, chapter II of which imposes an obligation on exporters to notify their first intended transboundary movement of a GM organism to the relevant authority in the importing country, whether that country is a party or a non-party to the protocol, and to await its consent to proceed.
The decision to allow the GM mosquito field trials in the Cayman Islands was not subject to the EU legislation on the deliberate release of GM organisms, because it does not apply to UK overseas territories. And the Cartagena Protocol does not govern the release of GM organisms into the environment, only their transboundary movement. The Cayman Islands have their own legislation which required the Mosquito
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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice published initial impact assessments and equality impact assessments alongside the consultation papers Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales and Proposals for Reform of Civil Litigation Funding and Costs: Implementation of Lord Justice Jackson's Recommendations, which were published on 15 November 2010.
The consultation and the impact assessments can be accessed at the link at http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/legal-aid-reform-151110.htm.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We estimate that in 2008 UK forest land removed from the atmosphere the equivalent of about 15.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide compared with about 13.8 million tonnes in 1990. These numbers include carbon stored in wood products from harvest, and are equivalent respectively to about 2.4 per cent and 1.8 per cent of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in the same years.
The Read report commissioned by the Forestry Commission GB suggests that if woodland cover was to increase from 12 per cent to 16 per cent of land cover, abatement from woodlands planted since 1990 would, potentially, amount to 15Mt CO2 per year by the 2050s; this would be equivalent to 10 per cent of the UK's total GHGs emissions at that time, if current reduction targets are met. The abatement that could be achieved is highly sensitive to the level and timing of woodland creation and would be delivered through a combination of sequestration in forest biomass and wood products, renewable energy production and wood products displacing more carbon-intensive materials such as brick, steel and concrete.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): In order to reduce emissions from forests in developing countries the UK will be seeking an agreement at Cancun on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), as part of a balanced package of decisions. In particular, we will be seeking a high level goal for reducing deforestation, agreement to a REDD+ mechanism, the establishment of technical work programmes to operationalise it and appropriate safeguards for people and biodiversity.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Chevening scholarships programme is currently under review and we have not yet consulted the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission as part of that exercise. Officials have started work on establishing a working group on all government scholarships and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission will be invited to take part in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether discussions have taken place between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with regard to the provision of Commonwealth scholarships to all Commonwealth countries after this financial year. [HL4197]
Lord Howell of Guildford: There have been no discussions between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with regard to the provision of Commonwealth scholarships to Commonwealth countries after this financial year. Officials have started work on establishing a working group to bring together all government scholarship schemes and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be invited to take part in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 10 November (WA 77), whether the Government of Cuba have released the remaining 13 political prisoners by their self-imposed deadline of November; and, if not, what further representations they will make.[HL4241]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Of the 52 political prisoners the Cuban Government undertook to release in their announcement in July, 40 have now been released. The most recent prisoner released, Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, was the first to be able to remain in Cuba on parole (licencia extrapenal) without conditions. We understand that another of the group, Luis Enrique Ferrer, is due to be released in the coming days and to travel to Spain. The remaining 11 awaiting release want to stay in Cuba. In addition to these, 14 other prisoners not included in the list of 52 have been released and travelled to Spain, including the only other Cuban prisoner recognised by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, Rolando Jimenez Posada.
The UK and our EU partners continue to monitor the situation closely and remain in touch with the Cuban Government, the Cuban Catholic Church and the families of the prisoners. We will continue to encourage Cuba to fulfil its commitment to release these individuals and to allow released prisoners to remain in Cuba if they so wish.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Performance-related pay is already a feature of the school teachers' pay and conditions document in relation to teachers on the upper pay scale and members of the leadership group. Movement up their pay scales is not automatic and is subject to successful annual performance management reviews.
In The Coalition: Our Programme for Government we have said that we will reform the existing rigid national pay and conditions rules to give schools greater freedoms to pay good teachers more and deal with poor performance. As part of this commitment the Secretary of State for Education has indicated that he intends to return to the School Teachers' Review Body early next year to look at the introduction of greater freedoms and flexibilities to the teachers' pay system and the department's business plan published on 8 November says that we will "develop revised teacher standards and performance management regulations".
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations the Department for Education has had from the Seashell Trust on the lack of accessible employment opportunities for its college leavers with more complex learning difficulties, notwithstanding the recent publication of a government paper entitled Valuing Employment Now; and how many young people with such learning difficulties who have left college in the past three years are still unemployed. [HL4401]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department has received correspondence from the chief executive of the Seashell Trust about employment opportunities for college leavers with complex learning difficulties, and I will respond shortly.
We recognise it is vital to support the most vulnerable in society. We intend to publish a Green Paper on the future of education and support for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, which will include proposals about improving access to employment opportunities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): An Explanatory Memorandum was sent to the European Scrutiny Committees of both Houses of Parliament on 13 August 2010 on the original Commission proposal (Commission Document 12698/10 and Addenda) for a regulation to take effect from 1 January 2011. The proposal would allow "closure aid" to mines subject to a notified and defined closure plan as well as "exceptional aid" towards safety and social costs arising from mine closures, including local regeneration and employee reskilling programmes. Without this measure, the expiry of the existing Regulation (No 1407/2002) on 31 December 2010 would result in the abrupt, disorderly closure of subsidised mines, many of them in economically and socially deprived regions of the European Union. A text with some revisions is expected to be discussed at a Competition Council on 10 December and to be adopted by 1 January 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the costs of returning the following countries to their national currencies: (a) Ireland, (b) Greece, (c) Portugal, (d) Italy, (e) Spain, and (f) Germany; and how these costs would compare with the present costs of the European Union and International Monetary Fund bailouts.[HL4502]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It is not for Her Majesty's Government to comment on other EU member states' decisions regarding their currencies and membership or otherwise of the euro area.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford to Lord Tebbit on 10 November (WA 80), what areas of United Kingdom national sovereignty have been transferred to European Union competence since 1972 under (a) majority voting, and (b) unanimity, in the Council of Ministers; and what areas remain under the sole control of Parliament.[HL4192]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): No areas of competence have been transferred from the UK to the EU under majority voting or unanimity in the Council of Ministers. The limits of EU competence are clearly set out in the EU treaties, and only an amendment of the EU treaties can transfer any competence to or from the EU.
Parliament is sovereign; and EU law has effect in the UK because-and solely because-Parliament wills that it should. The EU Bill currently before Parliament includes a clause which seeks to place on a statutory footing this common-law principle.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The terms of reference for the review were set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of 8 September 2010 (col. 18WS). The terms of reference include the operation of the European arrest warrant and the way in which the optional safeguards have been transposed into United Kingdom law.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Governor of the Bank of England is consulted by HM Treasury in the course of formulating fiscal strategy; and how the Treasury ensures that fiscal and monetary strategies are co-ordinated.[HL4103]
The MPC takes into account the path for fiscal policy in judging the outlook for growth and inflation, and so that is incorporated into its monetary policy decisions. In accordance with the Bank of England Act 1998, a Treasury representative attends, and may speak at, the monthly MPC meetings. The non-voting representative plays a key role in ensuring appropriate co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy, including by briefing the MPC on the Budget.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): We have no specific plans to require kosher or halal meat to be labelled as such. However we do believe people should know what they are buying in shops or when they are eating out, and we
30 Nov 2010 : Column WA434
This is a difficult, complex and sensitive issue and as the way animals are slaughtered is primarily a welfare issue, we would wish to see this considered in the wider context of animal welfare and method of slaughter labelling.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 11 November (WA 129), why they raise the issue of bonded labour with Pakistan, but not with Bangladesh, India and Nepal.[HL4253]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In Pakistan, the UK and the EU raise the issue of bonded labour as part of our regular dialogue on human rights. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Annual Report on Human Rights 2009 highlighted our concerns in Pakistan, where the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that in 2009 there were over 3 million children born into or entering bonded labour to repay family debt in Pakistan. We have not recently raised the issue in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. However we continue to raise broader human rights concerns with these Governments at every appropriate opportunity.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Although there is no permanent physical Israeli presence in Gaza, given the significant control that Israel has over Gaza's borders, airspace and territorial waters, the UK judges that Israel retains obligations under the fourth Geneva Convention as an occupying power.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of social housing sector tenants in local authority and registered social landlord lets have been in receipt of full and partial housing benefit in each year since 2005; and what estimate they have made of the number of new tenants in the social housing sector who will be able to afford rents set at 80 per cent of market rent levels on new five-year fixed-term tenancies.[HL4098]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Information on housing benefit recipients in receipt of full and partial housing benefit in each year since 2005 is not available.
To answer this Question we would have to compare the amounts of eligible weekly rent with the weekly amount of housing benefit awarded. The department does collect some management information on eligible weekly amounts of rent but to assess the completeness of recording and quality assure the figures would incur disproportionate cost.
The Department for Work and Pensions has made no estimate of the number of new tenants in the social housing sector who will be able to afford rents set at 80 per cent of market rent levels on new five-year fixed-term tenancies. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have undertaken the work on the new affordable rent. The DCLG and the Homes and Community Agency will be setting out further details on affordable rent shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (a) families, and (b) unaccompanied children, have been detained for immigration purposes since 5 May 2010; and how many of each were in immigration detention on the latest date for which figures are available.[HL4365]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): There were 27 families and five age-disputed individuals, who were unassociated with a family, who entered detention, solely under Immigration Act powers, from the 6 May 2010 to the 30 June 2010 inclusive, the latest date for which published information is available.
Management information shows that there was one family with one child in detention solely under Immigration Act powers as at 30 June 2010. There were an additional two individuals claiming to be children recorded as being under 18 as at 30 June 2010 in detention solely under Immigration Act powers; both individuals were recorded as having their age disputed.
The Home Office publishes statistics on the number of children detained solely under Immigration Act powers on a quarterly and annual basis, which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the obstacles to ending the detention of children; and whether they will offer to transfer any families still in detention to accommodation provided under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.[HL4366]
Baroness Neville-Jones: The Government are committed to ending the detention of children for immigration purposes. A review is currently under way to consider how this can be done in a way which protects the welfare of children while ensuring the departure of families who have no right to be in the UK. We are testing out a range of new approaches aimed at keeping families with children in the community because we need to be sure that any new process works in practice.
The number of families being detained has reduced significantly during the course of the review, and it is no longer the case that families are detained for long periods of time. Currently detention is used only as a last resort after families' appeal rights are exhausted, assisted return has been offered and self-check-in has been attempted.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Bank of England or HM Treasury monitors trends in public confidence in the ability of the Monetary Policy Committee to meet the inflation target set by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.[HL4444]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether completion of approvals for the Isles of Scilly Link, contained in Annex B of the Department for Transport's Investment in Local Major Transport Schemes, will be achieved before the funding package deadlines run out.[HL3719]
Earl Attlee: The Isles of Scilly Link scheme is one of three schemes with conditional approval. As confirmed in the document Investment in Local Major Transport Schemes, published on 26 October, we hope to make firm decisions on the way forward on these schemes by January 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are involved in negotiations with the Government of Israel regarding withdrawal from military positions in the village of Ghajar; whether they are aware of such involvement by any third party; and whether they foresee any consequential issues between Syria and Lebanon.[HL4358]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We welcome Israel's recent announcement of their intention to accept proposals put forward by the UN and UN Interim Force in Lebanon to withdraw Israeli Defence Force troops from the northern part of Ghajjar.
We have not been involved in negotiations, but have regularly called on all parties to fulfil their obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, including 1701, and will continue to do so. Israel and the UN should now work together to agree practical measures to implement this proposal as soon as is possible.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Palestinian Authority on the issue of text-books used in schools, of an anti-Israel or anti-Jewish nature; and with what result.[HL4068]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We take seriously any reports of text-books being used to promote anti-Semitism. We also recognise this is a controversial area. However, recent independent studies have shown that the Palestinian Authority has made real improvements to its text-books over the last decade and found no evidence of anti-Semitism. But at least one study has shown that both Israeli and Palestinian text-books could do better and teach something positive about the other side. We support that message.
To ask Her Majesty's Government , further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 27 October (WA 293), how the local enterprise partnerships will be funded; how they will be held to account for the monies spent; and what standards of governance the local enterprise partnerships will be required to demonstrate to ensure that both government and local people can be assured of their knowledge and probity.[HL4411]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Where local enterprise partnerships receive funding from the Government, grant conditions will be used to ensure proper accountability for those funds including appropriate appraisal and evaluation processes.
Partnerships will be directly accountable to local authorities, businesses and other members for their activities. This may take different forms and it will be up to local partners to agree scrutiny arrangements that are sufficiently robust and transparent to ensure proper accountability. We expect such partnerships to adopt the same transparency arrangements on their staff and spending as those adopted by local government.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): As announced in July 2010, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is both reviewing Ofgem's regulatory role (the Ofgem review) and looking at its role in administering government programmes as part of a broader examination of the department's delivery landscape. No decisions have been taken on Ofgem's powers and responsibilities at this stage.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the concerns expressed by the chairman of the Forces Pension Society, Vice-Admiral Sir Michael Moore, over the impact on war widows and injured soldiers of the decision to link future increases in their pensions to the consumer prices index rather than the retail prices index.[HL4307]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My honourable friend the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans wrote to Vice-Admiral Sir Michael Moore on 16 November. While we have enormous sympathy for those whose benefits and pensions will be affected by the change in indexation, and while the Government are still considering detailed guidance on how this will be implemented, the country's current financial situation means that this measure is necessary.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in light of the European Commission's Green Paper Towards adequate, safe and sustainable European pension systems, pensions policy in the United Kingdom remains subject to the principle of subsidiarity.[HL4350]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Pensions policy in the United Kingdom remains subject to the principle of subsidiarity. As the Green Paper says,
30 Nov 2010 : Column WA440
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the extent of the European Union's competence in the area of pensions policy; and in light of this what is their assessment of the proposals set out in the European Commission Green Paper Towards adequate, safe and sustainable European pensions systems.[HL4351]
Lord Freud: Pensions systems are within the competence of individual member states. There is an EU interest in the aspects of occupational pension provision and supervision that are concerned with the enabling and supporting of free movement of persons and services.
The Government's response to the Commission's Green Paper reiterated that member states are best placed to tackle the issues raised and indicated that we are already tackling these issues through our pensions policies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered increasing capacity on the existing West Coast mainline and Chiltern mainline routes by increasing services and adding extra carriages.[HL4278]
Earl Attlee: Yes. I refer my noble friend to the road and rail alternatives study undertaken by the Department for Transport earlier this year. This is available at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/alternativestudy/.
Earl Attlee: Rail demand has risen broadly in line with economic growth for the past 40 years or more. The current forecasting method, which has been developed by the industry since privatisation, takes data from ticket sales and evidence on the drivers of demand to provide projections of growth for individual routes. There is no evidence in these forecasts of saturation of
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Earl Attlee: HS2 Ltd proposes a journey time by high speed rail between London and central Birmingham of 49 minutes. This compares to the current fastest journey time on the Chiltern line between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street of one hour and 56 minutes.
HS2 Ltd's proposed line would also deliver journey time savings to destinations further north via services through-running on to the conventional network. In addition, extending the high speed network further north would deliver still greater journey time savings to a range of destinations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the net cost benefit analysis for the proposed High Speed Two rail route has been calculated on the basis of fare increases; and, if so, what are those increases.[HL4279]
Earl Attlee: Details of the fares assumptions underpinning HS2 Ltd's technical modelling are contained in the report HS2 Demand Model Analysis, which is available at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/hs2ltd.
Earl Attlee: The Government have not made such a forecast. The Government recognise that some generalised property blight has been generated by the publication in March of this year of HS2 Ltd's proposed line of route, but the fluctuating nature of the property market and other influences on property values make the effects of blight very difficult to quantify accurately. Any forecast of the overall effect on property values in the vicinity of the proposed route could be inaccurate and potentially misleading, particularly as blighting effects often lessen over time as more certainty about a proposal and its impacts develops.
However the Government are monitoring the effects of blight and have introduced the Exceptional Hardship Scheme to assist those most severely affected who
30 Nov 2010 : Column WA442
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The United Nations Global Forest Resources Assessment (2010) estimates the global rate of deforestation from 2000 to 2010 at about 13 million hectares a year. This was offset by afforestation and the natural expansion of forests, leaving a net loss of about 5.2 million hectares a year. The rate of loss in the first half of that period (between 2000 and 2005) was higher, at about 7.3 million hectares a year, meaning the rate of loss has slowed.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the eurozone and other member states, including the UK, have agreed a three-year financial assistance package for Ireland. We are doing this because it is overwhelmingly in Britain's national interest that we have a stable Irish economy and banking system.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We have reallocated up to £50 million from the Harnessing Technology grant to provide capital funding for free schools up to the end of March 2011. The capital review is considering the best models for allocating and targeting capital in the future. The review team will complete its work by the end of the calendar year, and decisions will be made in the light of the review as soon as possible in the new year. Since we know that schools and local authorities are keen to have certainty of funding, we are aiming to confirm allocations for the 2011-12 financial year in December underpinned by principles emerging from the capital review.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 1 November (WA 368), for each of the years 1995-2009, how many pupils in England were entered for (a) 10 or more, (b) 9, (c) 8, (d) 7, (e) 6, (f) 5, (g) 4, (h) 3, (i) 2, (j) 1, and (k) 0 GCSE examinations.[HL3931]
|Number and Percentage of Pupils Entering GCSEs, 1995-20102,3|
|Number of GCSEs' entered for|
|Year||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10 or more|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the impact on learning of poor toilet and drinking water facilities in schools; and what
30 Nov 2010 : Column WA445
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Good access to appropriate toilet facilities and drinking water in schools is essential for the health and well-being of children and young people. A lack of either, or both, is likely to have an adverse impact on their learning, but we do not have good enough evidence to enable us to estimate that impact.
Currently, requirements for toilets and drinking water for pupils and visitors in schools are contained in the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999. Those for teachers and other school staff are set out in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The responsibility for ensuring that schools conform to the school premises regulations generally rests with local authorities, while responsibility for ensuring compliance with the workplace regulations sits with the Health and Safety Executive.
Working closely with Partnerships for Schools, we are reviewing both sets of requirements, together with earlier recommendations to update the Education (School Premises) Regulations, so that we can establish a single set of standards applicable to all users of school buildings. We are also looking at how compliance will be ensured in the future, when there is one set of standards, and intend that the responsibility for this will be much clearer than it is now.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Statement by Lord Sassoon on 20 October (Official Report, col. 830-47), whether the Committee of the Office for Budget Responsibility at any point said that it had "audited" the Spending Review 2010 Statement; and whether the committee agreed to the use of this term in the form and context of Lord Sassoon's Statement.[HL4258]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The publication Spending Review 2010 policy costings set out that "the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), led by the Budget Responsibility Committee, has provided independent scrutiny of the Government's estimated costings of annually managed expenditure policies as part of the Spending Review". This text was provided by the OBR.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will carry out the proposal in the coalition agreement our programme for government to "implement the Sustainable Communities Act"; and when they will
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Department for Communities and Local Government's business plan states that the Government will, by the end of January 2011, "decide on proposals already submitted under the Sustainable Communities Act, and publish related steps the Government will take to enable local authorities to achieve what they want to see happen" and "set a date by which government will invite councils to submit more ideas".
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 9 November (WA 70), whether the United Kingdom Ambassador in Damascus will continue to press the Government of Syria to reveal the whereabouts and welfare of Ms Hassan; and whether she has been charged of any offence under their criminal code.[HL4240]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to press the Syrian Government over the cases of human rights defenders, including the case of Ms Hassan, and call for the release of all who have been imprisoned solely for seeking to exercise their right to peaceful freedom of expression and freedom of association.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 2 November (WA 402), what responses or undertakings they received from the Turkish authorities during the meeting referred to concerning respect for non-Muslim religious minorities such as the Catholic and Syriac communities.[HL4242]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in light of the number of Turkish journalists currently awaiting trial or serving sentences, when they last raised issues of press freedom with the Government of Turkey.[HL4254]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Our embassy in Ankara periodically raises issues relating to freedom of expression-including the imprisonment of journalists-in the context of wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts. This was done most recently at the beginning of August.
Freedom of expression, and of the media, remain key areas for reform in Turkey in the context of its EU accession process. The EU Progress Report for 2010 addresses this issue, and makes clear that while there have been some positive developments, there are concerns over the high number of legal cases brought against journalists. More work is needed before Turkey fulfils the EU criteria on respect for freedom of expression and the media.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 2 November (WA 401) concerning the admission of Turkey to the European Union, whether they and the European Union believe they have the power to decide the geographical position of individual countries.[HL4289]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of Uganda regarding the proposed legislation in Uganda, and, in particular, the Public Order Management Bill and the Press and Journalist (Amendment) Bill. [HL4282]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our High Commission in Kampala has discussed the Public Order Management Bill with the Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of State for Internal Affairs and the Inspector-General of Police. Our High Commission has discussed the draft Press and Journalist Bill with the Ugandan Minister for Information and National Guidance.
In both cases we have encouraged the Ugandan authorities to ensure that any new legislation strikes an appropriate and legitimate balance between regulation and protection of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposed legislation in Uganda, and, in particular, the Public Order Management Bill and the Press and Journalist (Amendment) Bill.[HL4283]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We assess that there is a legitimate case for regulation and legislation in both areas and that it is important that any new or amended legislation is in accordance with the Ugandan Constitution and international human rights standards.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The United Nations Security Council's open debate on women, peace and security provided an encouraging sign of broad support for UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325; over 90 member states spoke. Working with like-minded states, we secured a number of important outcomes. These included: a strong statement of support for UNSCR 1325 from the Security Council; commitment to action by many member states; and agreement to take forward the implementation of indicators to better measure global efforts to protect and empower women in conflict.
The key challenge following the debate is to ensure that the commitments made are now delivered. We intend to follow developments at the UN closely and to maintain the council's focus on this agenda, starting with the Secretary-General's report on sexual violence in armed conflict in December.
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