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24 Jan 2011 : Column WA81

Written Answers

Monday 24 January 2011

Abortion

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not hold data on the devolved Administrations. For England, the information that is available is set out in the following table.

The department does not collect information on spending by primary care trusts (PCTs) on abortions undertaken by National Health Service providers in England. The department does however collect information on the cost to NHS providers (NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and PCT provider arms) of abortions. The following table sets out the cost to NHS providers of abortions between 2005-06 and 2009-10. The figures in the table do not include the cost of abortions performed by the independent sector, which were commissioned directly by PCT commissioner arms, as this information is not collected as part of the reference costs collection.

(£m)2005-062006-072007-082008-092009-10

Cost to NHS providers (NHS trusts, foundation trusts and PCT provider arms) of providing abortion services

81.7

83.6

84.2

82.1

82.6

Cost to NHS providers of commissioning or contracting abortions from independent sector providers1

12.4

17.7

10.9

10.4

7.5

Total

94.1

101.3

95.1

92.4

90.1

Note: 1For reference costs purposes, only PCT provider arms can report commissioned data. Figures are rounded.

Source: Published reference cost data, available at www.dh.gov.uk/nhscosting

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Verma: The right honourable Andrew Lansley MP, as Secretary of State for Health, has policy responsibility for abortion in England and Wales, supported by Anne Milton MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health.

As Secretary of State for International Development, the right honourable Andrew Mitchell MP has policy responsibility for the Government's approach to abortion in developing countries. My right honourable friend is supported by the right honourable Alan Duncan MP, Minister of State for International Development, who leads on UK funding for the United Nations Population Fund, and Stephen O'Brien MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, who leads on funding to Civil Society, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International.

The Department for International Development (DfID) does not support abortion as a method of family planning. We believe the best way to eliminate unsafe abortion is to provide access to family planning information, services and supplies and to ensure that women have more control over the circumstances in which they have sex. In countries where abortion is permitted, DfID will support programmes that make abortion safe and accessible. DfID's policy position on safe and unsafe abortion is available on our website-www.dfid.gov.uk/Media-Room/Publications/.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Verma: The information requested is not available without incurring disproportionate cost.

The Department for International Development (DfID) does not support abortion as a method of family planning. We believe the best way to eliminate unsafe abortion is to provide access to family planning information, services and supplies and to ensure that women have more control over the circumstances in which they have sex. In countries where abortion is permitted, DfID will support programmes that make abortion safe and accessible. DfID's policy position on safe and unsafe abortion is available on our website-www.dfid.gov.uk/Media-Room/Publications/.

Agriculture: Organic Food

Questions

Asked by Lord Krebs



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The organic industry has raised half the cost of this campaign and the European Union will be providing the rest. Defra was involved in discussions during the development of the campaign and helped to facilitate meetings between the UK organic sector and Commission officials. The approach taken, which is to use every day examples of ordinary consumers, may help to address barriers and misconceptions around the market for organic products. We share the Commission's hope that the campaign will increase the amount of organic product sold by UK organic operators, who work hard to increase consumer choice.

Asked by Lord Krebs

Lord Henley: The phrase "Good for nature, Good for you" was chosen by the Commission as part of its organic promotion campaign to convey that a system of farming that promotes biodiversity can improve the lives of European citizens by enhancing their enjoyment of rural areas. The wording may be ambiguous in the English language as it could be seen to suggest that all organic products are nutritionally beneficial, which is not the case, for example, for organic confectionary. When the campaign was being developed in 2006-07, Defra officials proposed that the Commission adopt the wording "Good for nature, good for us", better to convey the essential objective.

Asked by Lord Krebs

Lord Henley: Whether organic production delivers environmental benefits is a complex issue.

In respect of improved biodiversity attributable to organic systems, studies include those by Shepherd et al. 2003, Hole et al. 2005 and Norton, L. et al. 2008. While these recognise that alternative methods of encouraging biodiversity on non-organic farms may be at least as effective, they also note that the organic system provides a valuable whole farm approach to encouraging environmental benefits.

However, other studies arrive at different conclusions. For example by Gabriel et al. 2010 conclude that organic farming delivers only small increases in biodiversity on average and in some farm types a slight reduction in the numbers of small birds such as linnets and skylarks.

In terms of organic production being better for consumers, recent studies funded by the Food Standards Agency have shown that there are no important differences in the nutrition content of organic food when compared with conventionally produced food. However, it is clear that some consumers prefer not to have detectable

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA84

residues in their food, and certified organic food contains fewer pesticide residues than food produced using conventional methods.

Organic regulation imposes strict animal welfare requirements on farmers and many consumers prefer to rely on the assurance of good welfare provided by the purchase of certified organic livestock products. Consumers may also choose organic products because they do not use hydrogenated fats or synthetic flavours. As stated above, consumers of organic products may also contribute to environmental benefits biodiversity. These are areas in which consumers may consider that organic foods are better for them.

Armed Forces: Parachute Operations

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): UK parachute forces were formally deployed in Sierra Leone in 2000.

Although the Special Forces have a parachute capability, information on any operations relating to them has been withheld as its disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the Armed Forces.

Bahrain

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government remain concerned by reports that torture was used in Bahrain's Ministry of Interior detention facilities. We believe that torture is unacceptable under any circumstances. We regularly encourage the Government of Bahrain, at the highest level, to meet all their human rights obligations, demonstrate transparency and follow due process in the investigation of alleged offences committed against those who have been detained. The Government of Bahrain have assured us that there is zero tolerance for torture in Bahraini detention facilities. We have not received reports that Dr Al Singace had his wheelchair removed while in Bahraini detention facilities but we continue to monitor the situation.



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA85

Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Due to HM Revenue and Custom's taxpayer confidentiality rules, it is not possible to provide the amount of corporation tax to be paid, or forecast to be paid, by the United Kingdom's six largest banks in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Banking: Bonuses

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Robust actions have been taken by the Government to tackle unacceptable bonuses, including the revision of the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) Remuneration Code, the implementation of the FSA's new remuneration disclosure rules, the establishment of the Independent Commission on Banking and the introduction of the bank levy. In addition, the Chancellor has written to counterparts in the European Union calling for urgent consideration of proposals for an international pay disclosure regime, and the Government continue to work with international partners to investigate the costs and benefits of a financial activities tax.

The Government have been clear that banks must act responsibly in setting their bonuses. The Government are in discussion with the banks to see whether a new settlement can be reached whereby smaller bonuses are paid than would otherwise be paid; and that there is greater transparency in relation to remuneration than hitherto. If the banks cannot commit to such a settlement, the Government have made it clear to them that nothing is "off the table", and the Government will keep the House informed of all relevant policy developments.

Asked by Lord Higgins



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Lord Sassoon: The Government are clear that remuneration policies at banks need to reward long-term sustainable performance and not incentivise short-term excessive risk taking. The Financial Services Authority's revised Remuneration Code ensures remuneration policies are consistent with effective risk management and imposes strict rules that ensure significant portions of the remuneration paid to material risk takers are deferred and linked to the performance of the individual and the firm.

The Government have made it clear to the Royal Bank of Scotland that it should have a smaller bonus pool than last year, and that it should be a back-marker in the industry.

Banking: Liability

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Conwy

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for Office for National Statistics, to Lord Roberts, dated January 2011

As Director General of the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking Her Majesty's Government the total liabilities of the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group that may be added to the public sector net debt. [HL5947]

In November 2009, ONS published an article which estimated that the impact might be between £1 trillion and £1.5 trillion. [www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/nojournal/Financial-crisis.pdf,]

Work to quantify these impacts more precisely and to implement them in public sector finances statistics has proceeded subsequently. The November 2010 Public Sector Finances: Statistical Bulletin, published 21 December 2010 and available at www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/psf1210.pdf, explained that ONS intends to incorporate the data for these two banking groups into the Public Sector Finances: Statistical Bulletin that will be released on 25 January 2011. This will be accompanied by an article describing the data and the methodology used.

Banking: Royal Bank of Scotland

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 2 December the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced that it had completed a supervisory investigation into the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The FSA is conducting supervisory investigations into the other banks that required extensive government support during the crisis. These investigations are ongoing. If they lead to enforcement action being taken, then it would be usual for the FSA to make these outcomes public if such actions against individuals or institutions are successful.

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. Participation is determined according to eligibility criteria set out in the Bank's Market Notice on the SLS (available at www.bankofengland. co.uk/markets/marketnoticeO90925sls.pdf).

The Bank announced in the Market Notice of 3 February 2009 that the number of banks and building societies that had accessed the SLS was 32. The relevant Market Notice can be found at www.bankofengland. co.uk/markets/marketnoticeO90203c.pdf

As published in the Bank's December 2010 Financial Stability Report, £75 billion of the £l85 billion Treasury bills advanced under the scheme had been repaid by end-November 2010.

Banks: Fees and Charges

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government committed in the coalition agreement to introduce stronger consumer protection, including measures to end unfair bank and financial transaction charges.

This issue is being considered in the joint Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and HM Treasury Consumer Credit and Personal Insolvency Review. The call for evidence for this review has now closed, and the Government are considering the responses and will come forward with specific proposals in due course.



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Banks: Lending

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Decisions about lending are a matter for individual financial institutions to make on a commercial basis. The Government do not intervene in these decisions as a matter of course.

The voluntary Lending Code sets minimum standards for the way that banks, building societies and other banking service providers treat their customers. It is monitored by the Lending Standards Board, which is independent of government.

Benefits

Questiosn

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department carries out data-matching on death data with Spain, Gibraltar, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands and the USA to identify whether benefit recipients in these countries are still alive. We are progressing plans to data-match with a number of other countries where there are high numbers of UK beneficiaries.

Where data-matching is not possible or practical, for example, because the country does not have a suitably robust registration system, life certificates are used. Life certificates require customers to present themselves to a recognised foreign authority to have their certificate signed. The customer must also present photographic evidence, for example, a passport.

The life certificate programme has recently been expanded to include annual certification of all customers not covered by data-matching in high-risk cohorts based on age. This expansion has proved successful.

Asked by Lord Laird



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Lord Freud: A person moving to or residing in another EEA country or Switzerland can continue to receive the following benefits if they have satisfied the conditions of entitlement:

state retirement pension;contributory jobseeker's allowance but only for up to three months;contributory employment and support allowance and long-term incapacity benefit;bereavement benefits;industrial injuries benefits;winter fuel payment provided the person was entitled to it before they left the UK;disability living allowance (care component), attendance allowance and carer's allowance;maternity and paternity benefits which are based on a period of employment and a level of earnings;child benefit and child tax credit; andguardian's allowance.

Domestic law provides for some benefits to be paid wherever a person resides abroad:

state retirement pension;bereavement benefits;industrial injuries benefits; andguardian's allowance.

In addition to these benefits, under a small number of reciprocal social security agreements with other countries, persons living in those countries can also be paid state maternity allowance, child benefit and long-term invalidity benefit. Some other benefits can be paid, depending on the circumstances, for a period when a person is temporarily absent from the UK.

The income-related benefits (income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-based employment and support allowance, income support, state pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit), are not payable to persons residing abroad. The mobility component of DLA is also not exportable.

Births: Statistics

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for Office for National Statistics, to Lord Kilclooney, dated January 2011

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many births there were in England in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (HL6074)



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA90

The table below shows the numbers of live births to mothers usually resident in England in each year from 2007 to 2009.

YearLive births to mothers usually resident in England

2007

655,357

2008

672,809

2009

671,058

Bribery Act 2010

Questions

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): An impact assessment was prepared for the introduction of the Bribery Bill. It was estimated that there would be an additional annual cost of £2 million for enforcement of the new offence of failure by a commercial organisation to prevent bribery, principally in respect of investigations and prosecutions by the Serious Fraud Office. The Serious Fraud Office expects to carry out all its normal functions, including Bribery Act investigations and prosecutions, within its announced funding settlement.

On the law enforcement machinery in relation to economic crime more generally, the coalition agreement makes clear the Government's intention to rationalise the current piecemeal enforcement landscape for complex economic crime.

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

Lord McNally: We intend to publish the guidance under Section 9 of the Bribery Act shortly in preparation for the full commencement of the Act in spring this year, in line with my Written Statement of 5 October last year.

Charities: VAT

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It is not possible to assess accurately the amount of irrecoverable VAT incurred by charities. Even if it were, considerations of taxpayer confidentiality would preclude the disclosure of information relating to specific organisations or individuals.

Charities benefit from a range of tax reliefs which the Government estimate were worth approximately £3 billion per annum in 2009-10. These include reliefs from VAT, including VAT zero-rating on the sale of donated goods, medical and scientific equipment and, for qualifying charities, goods for use by disabled people. All zero rates are derogations from the normal European Union VAT rules, and represent benefits not enjoyed by charities elsewhere in Europe. There are no plans to introduce any additional VAT recovery schemes for charities.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Sassoon: Charities can recover VAT incurred on their purchases and expenses, to the extent that these relate to taxable sales that they make, but they cannot recover VAT that relates to exempt sales or non-business activities. These rules also apply to limited companies and other businesses.

Information is not available to assess accurately the amount of VAT that cannot be recovered by charities or the effect on this of the increase in the standard rate of VAT.

Charities benefit from a range of tax reliefs which the Government estimate were worth approximately £3 billion per annum in 2009-10. These include reliefs from VAT, including VAT zero-rating on the sale of donated goods, medical and scientific equipment and, for qualifying charities, goods for use by disabled people. All zero rates are derogations from the normal European Union VAT rules, and represent benefits not enjoyed by charities elsewhere in Europe.

Asked by Lord Hollick

Lord Sassoon: The Government have no plans to introduce such a scheme. The VAT which is refunded to the NHS and other bodies is taken into account as part of those bodies' overall funding arrangements. The schemes that are in place are the most efficient means of delivering this part of their funding.



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The Government continue to look at ways of ensuring that VAT does not act as a barrier to the reform of public services where such options are open to us and affordable within agreed funding arrangements. For example, we are continuing to work closely with the charity and other sectors to explore options for implementing the European Union VAT exemption for cost sharing, and the recent announcement of a new VAT refund scheme for academies demonstrates the Government's willingness to create a level playing field for VAT where this can be done in a fair, targeted and affordable way.

However, a general VAT recovery scheme for all charities would not be affordable or well targeted, nor would it be fair to reimburse those charities which are in competition with private sector providers.

China

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised the case of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng during his meeting with Vice Premier Li Kegiang on 11 January 2011. My honourable friend the Minister of State, Jeremy Browne, also raised his case with the head of the Chinese delegation to the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue on 13 January 2011. The Chinese delegation to the dialogue was unable to provide any new information. We will continue to ask the Chinese Government about Gao's whereabouts and welfare.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The file BN 141/1 contains a high volume of personal medical information about ME sufferers (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Due to the personal nature of the content, the file remains closed until 2072 under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This exemption

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA93

applies because the overwhelming majority of this file contains sensitive personal data of named individuals who are believed to still be living. Releasing the file into the public domain would breach the requirement in the Data Protection Act 1998 that personal data be processed fairly and lawfully.

Redaction of this personal information so that the rest of the file can be released has been considered but ruled out. The volume of personal information about ME sufferers and benefit claims within the file means that redaction would render the open part of the file so small that it would cause the contents to be meaningless.

The file closure decision was reviewed in 2010 by the National Archives and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Commonwealth Countries: Accession to the Throne

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Commonwealth countries of which the Queen is head of state are in regular dialogue over the legal and constitutional issues in which they have a shared interest. Discussions have taken place between officials, and are continuing. But they remain confidential, and the Government are not in a position to reveal information about the contents of those discussions.

Constitutional Convention

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform informed the other place on 15 December 2010 (Hansard col. 822W) that the Government will make an announcement about our plans to establish a commission to consider the West Lothian question-the term used to sum up existing arrangements which allow MPs representing constituencies from devolved territories to vote on English-only matters.

The Government are giving careful consideration to the timing, composition, scope and remit of the commission. Its work will need to take account of the proposals to reform this House to create a wholly or mainly elected second chamber, the changes being

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA94

made to the way the other place does business and the amendments to the devolution regimes-for example, in the Scotland Bill presently before Parliament. We have no plans to propose a referendum in England.

Consular Services

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Visas issued under Chapter 3, Articles 9 to 18 of the Schengen agreement give access to the territory of any state participating in that part of the agreement for a period of three months. The UK has not applied to join this part of the Schengen agreement and therefore is not able to share consular services with other member states of the European Union for the purpose of issuing visas.

The UK has different rules for considering visa applications which would make it impractical for the UK to represent or be represented by other member states.

Debt: Public Sector

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Conwy

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): According to the December Public Sector Finances (PSF) statistics release, public sector net debt is £863.1 billion. More information on the PSF release can be found here www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psf_ statistics.htm.

Economy: Double-dip Recession

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The June Budget set out the Government's plans to accelerate deficit reduction. Putting the public finances back on a sustainable path is a prerequisite for economic growth.

In its Economic and Fiscal Outlook, published on 29 November 2010, the Office for Budget Responsibility's central economic forecast shows that the economy will grow in every year of the forecast horizon to 2015-16.



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA95

Education Maintenance Allowance

Question

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are committed to making sure that young people from low income households can continue in education and training post-16. We are considering the replacement for the education maintenance allowance and want to ensure that the funds we have are targeted on those young people who most need support to enable them to participate in learning.

In reaching the decision to end education maintenance allowance (EMA) we have looked closely at evaluation evidence and other research, which indicates that the scheme does not effectively target those young people who need financial support to enable them to participate in learning. The evidence suggests that around 90 per cent of the young people who receive EMA would still have participated in learning if the scheme was not available.

Education: Nurseries

Question

Asked by The Earl of Listowel

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): There has never been a requirement for all early education and care settings to be led by a graduate professional. We have, however, recently removed the overly prescriptive requirement for all Sure Start children's centres in the most disadvantaged areas to provide full day care, and the associated requirement that this provision be delivered by both a qualified teacher (QT) and an early years professional (EYP).

In the past, children's centres in the most disadvantaged areas were required to provide full day care, i.e. 10 hours a day, five days a week, for 48 weeks a year. However, the National Audit Office memorandum for the Children, Schools and Families Committee, December 2009, suggested that in some areas, when demand for full day care is low, money intended for other Sure Start services-like family support and outreach to vulnerable families-is subsidising the provision of early education and care.

We do expect children's centres to continue to play a critical role in early education and care, including providing and encouraging take-up of free nursery education for two, three, and four-year-olds and additional hours where there is demand. Furthermore, where

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children's centres in disadvantaged areas offer early education, we would expect this to be of the highest standard and delivered by either a QT or an EYP.

The Government remain committed to investing in the quality of the early education and childcare workforce, and will develop proposals to support this by March 2011. The recent local authority and school funding settlement provides for the ongoing support and development of the workforce. From April 2011 Funding is being made available through a new simplified early intervention grant. Continued national investment in the early years workforce includes the funding of places on the early years professional status programme and the new leaders in early years programme which began in November.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In determining whether to make public the name of an official, it is the convention that staff below senior civil service or equivalent level and those whose names are not already within the public domain are not released. As an independent statutory body, these are matters for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority itself to determine. I have nothing further to add on this matter.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the research licence committees of the authority exercise their functions in accordance with the procedure, and applying the criteria, prescribed in law. In reaching a determination, a licence committee will take into account the opinion of expert peer reviewers, including an opinion on whether the use of embryos in the proposed research is necessary or desirable for one of the purposes specified in the relevant legislation, and relevant general advice from the authority's scientific and clinical advances advisory committee. The HFEA publishes minutes of licence committees on its website at: www.hfea.gov.uk.

The HFEA has also advised that it does not comment on past decisions made by licence committees and future licensing decisions will be made in the light of the best scientific and other relevant information available at the time.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it does not hold data on the overall incidence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Recognising that OHSS may occur in the course of the provision of licensed assisted conception treatment, the HFEA has included cases of OHSS resulting from licensed treatment, that are graded severe or critical and result in admission to hospital, within the scope of reportable incidents and draws clinics' attention to the guidelines produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The reporting of cases of OHSS to the HFEA was described in the answer given to the noble Lord on 22 November 2010, Official Report, col. WA263 and the HFEA has advised that it has nothing to add to this.

The HFEA has further advised that it has commissioned two independent reports on OHSS, which are available on the authority's website. The HFEA's code of practice requires licensed centres to have documented procedures for the management of OHSS, which may be reviewed on inspection. The authority does not report data on cases of confirmed OHSS to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology because it does not hold such data.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority refers the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement of 4 March 2010, Official Report col. WS 184 and has nothing to add.

Of the remaining 17 Arm's Length Bodies (ALBs), only Monitor-the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts-has required the services of these companies and the total costs per annum of services provided since April 2002 are:



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ALB: Monitor-Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts
Financial YearMedia StrategyTotal Costs PAHanover CommunicationsTotal Costs PA

2002-03

n/a-Monitor not in existence

n/a-Monitor not in existence

2003-04

0

0

2004-05

0

0

2005-06

0

0

2006-07

0

0

2007-08

0

0

2008-09

0

87,338.60

2009-10

0

14,721.67

Energy: Gas

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): In 2009, 64 per cent of the UK's gross demand (excluding exports, but including operators' own use) was supplied from the United Kingdom continental shelf, a European Union source of production.

The UK also imports gas from other European member countries. The transmission of gas within the EU involves a complex pattern of imports and exports that makes tracking the physical origin of the gas molecules impractical.

International practice is to report the physical flows of gas transmitted through pipes from neighbouring countries or via ship. DECC regularly summarises these data which are published on the DECC website. These show that gas sourced from the European Union (Belgium and the Netherlands) accounted for a further 7 per cent of UK gross demand.

For further information:

Imports and exports of gas showing transit via the pipelines from Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands, along with liquefied natural gas shipped from various sources: www.decc.gov.uk/media/viewfile.ashx?filepath =statistics/source/gas/et4_3.xls&filetype= 4&minwidth=true.

The European gas transit map, showing European gas flows and production by country: www.decc.gov.uk/media/viewfile.ashx?filetype=4&;filepath=Statistics/publications/trends/articles_issue/1104-physical-gas-flows-trends-art.pdf&minwidth=true

Energy: Light Bulbs

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Regulation 244/2009 sets the timetable for the EU-wide mandatory phase out of incandescent bulbs. This became law, directly applicable in all EU member states, in spring 2009 after agreement by the European Parliament and Council. Article 7 requires the European Commission to review the regulation no later than five years after it entered into force. We have no plans to seek an early review.

Compact Florescent Lamps (CFLs) contain small quantities of mercury. The amount of mercury is limited by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive to 5 mg (and will be reduced over the next two years). Before the ban on placing 100W incandescent light bulbs on the market came into force in September 2009, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reviewed the potential health effects of mercury exposure from broken CFLs, and found that the exposure was likely to be small and very unlikely to cause harm. Nevertheless, they should be disposed of responsibly.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) requires CFLs to be recycled. WEEE requires distributors to take back used electrical equipment but in the UK many retailers have opted instead to pay into a central distributor take-back scheme, which has funded many local authority recycling sites. From these sites, manufacturers are obliged to fund the transport, treatment and recycling, where most of the mercury can be recovered.

CFLs also cause less mercury to be emitted to the environment over their life time than incandescent light bulbs. This is because mercury is emitted from power stations during electricity generation. As CFLs are more energy efficient, less energy needs to be generated.

Energy: Photovoltic Installations

Question

Asked by Lord Reay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The projections referred to reflect modelling undertaken by the previous administration for the impact assessment which supported the summer 2009 consultation on renewable financial incentives. These projections were subsequently updated by the previous Administration to reflect the final design of the feed-in tariffs (FITs) scheme as introduced in April 2010.



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The final impact assessment, which was published in February 2010, includes the most recent projections. These suggested that approximately 750,000 small-scale (i.e. up to 5MW) renewable installations would be incentivised under FITs by 2020, generating approximately 3TWh additional small-scale renewable electricity in 2020. Of these, 725,000 were expected to be domestic scale renewable installations, predominantly solar photovoltaics.

The final impact assessment also estimated that the expected cost to consumers of FITs, cumulative to 2030, would be in the order of £6.7 billion, leading to an average increase in annual household electricity bills of approximately £8.50 over the period 2011-30. It should be noted that these estimates relate to the costs of supporting all FITs installations and not just PV.

EU: Businesses

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint: Her Majesty's Government are focused on maintaining and improving the UK's position as a world leading destination for foreign direct investment. The UK's inward investment regime is currently amongst the most welcoming in the world. We are aware of Mr Tajani's proposal. While we are open to any ideas to make Europe as a whole more competitive, we would not take any step which eroded the UK's competitiveness. HMG currently have legal powers intended to ensure unsuitable or unwelcome investors are kept at bay. Further details of the UK's inward investment strategy and policies are to be found in the upcoming trade White Paper and growth review.

EU: UK National Sovereignty

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Existing European Union competencies have been conferred by the United Kingdom on the European Union within EU treaties agreed by both Houses of the UK Parliament. In agreeing to the treaties, Parliament has also agreed to

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA102

EU use of powers falling under all competences within those treaties, and in this context we do not hold centrally a list of these powers as they come into use.

EU: UK Trade

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint: There is no comprehensive assessment of the consequences of European Union regulations on Britain's trade with the rest of the world. However, using the EU single market as a platform for innovation, economies of scale and trade should help British firms to be more competitive internationally and seize global opportunities.

Free Books

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government are determined to ensure that reading for pleasure is a gift every child can enjoy. Although the current programme which contributes to the Booktrust bookgifting schemes will end in March 2011, the Department for Education is talking to Booktrust about developing a new programme which will ensure that every child can enjoy the gift of books at crucial moments in their lives.

Fuel Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The coalition Government recognise the impact of rising fuel prices on low income and vulnerable households and is committed to helping the poorest heat their homes at an affordable cost.

The department publishes annual statistics which assess the level of fuel poverty in England. Fuel prices have risen at a rate well above that of income since

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA103

2004, acting as a major contributor to the rise in fuel poverty. Between 2004 and 2008, domestic energy prices rose by around 80 per cent, during which period the number of fuel poor households in England rose from 1.2 million in 2004 to 3.3 million in 2008.

These statistics are available on the DECC website and the latest set was published in October 2010.

Using this information the department has estimated that:

In England in 2008 the number of households with a child under 16 was 5,716,000, 907,000 of these households were in the lowest three income deciles. Of the households with a child under 16, 539,000 were fuel poor and 394,000 of these fuel poor households were in the lowest three income deciles.In England in 2007 the number of households with a child under 16 was 6,122,000, 974,000 of these households were in the lowest three income deciles. Of the households with a child under 16, 479,000 were fuel poor and 361,000 of these fuel poor households were in the lowest three income deciles.

Government Departments: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Ministry of Defence's spending plans were published in the spending review. This set out plans for an 8 per cent real terms reduction in the defence budget over the next four years.

Government Departments: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Examples include the introduction of "prompted choice" for organ donation and the establishment of smoking cessation trials with Boots (both of which appear in Applying Behavioural Insight to Health, December 2010).

Gross Domestic Product

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA104

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England Act 1998 states that the objectives of the Bank of England shall be to maintain price stability; and subject to that, support the economic policy of Her Majesty's Government, including their objectives for growth and employment. The Government confirmed in the Budget that the Monetary Policy Committee will continue to target 2 per cent inflation, as measured by the 12-month increase in the consumer prices index.

Health: Contaminated Blood Products

Questions

Asked by Baroness Campbell of Surbiton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The United Kingdom blood services must comply with the Blood Safety and Quality Regulation (2005), as amended. The principal measure to protect patients against transfusion-transmitted infections is the careful selection of blood donors, supplemented by specific testing for transfusion-transmitted infections.

There are well established systems in place within the UK blood services to identify, assess and respond to threats to the UK blood supply posed by known and emerging pathogens that may be transmitted by transfusion. The independent expert Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs and the National Expert Panel on New and Emerging Infections also monitor developments nationally and internationally, and provide advice to the department and to the blood services.

A number of safety measures are in place to reduce the risk of transmission of variant Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) as there is no specific test available for screening of donors. These include lifetime deferral from donation by people who have been advised they may be at increased risk from vCJD and by those previously transfused; leucodepletion of all donated blood; the use of non-UK plasma for production of plasma products such as clotting factors; and importation of fresh frozen plasma for treatment of children under 16.

The introduction of bacterial screening of platelets provides an additional safety measure for these products.

Asked by Lord Beecham

Earl Howe: All those affected by National Health Service supplied blood and blood products will be eligible to apply for this counselling. There is no information available on the number of individuals who might want to access this counselling. Therefore it will not be possible to ascertain how many people

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA105

might receive counselling until the arrangements have been put in place. Once arrangements are in place, officials will seek information regularly about take up.

Health: Drugs

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently updating its existing guidance on the use of donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl), rivastigmine (Exelon) and memantine (Ebixa) for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

NICE issued final draft guidance on 18 January 2011 which recommends the use of donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine for the treatment of mild and moderate Alzheimer's disease under certain conditions. Memantine is also recommended for patients with moderate and severe Alzheimer's disease. We understand that, subject to any appeals, NICE expects to issue its final guidance in March.

There is a statutory obligation on primary care trusts to make funding available for drugs and treatments recommended by NICE within three months of final NICE technology appraisal guidance being published.

Health: Fertility

Question

Asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The National Health Service Deputy Chief Executive, David Flory, wrote to primary care trust commissioners on 11 January 2011 to highlight the importance that those involved in commissioning fertility services have regard to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence fertility guideline, including the recommendation that up to three cycles of in-vitro fertilisation are offered to eligible couples where the woman is aged between 23 and 39.

This communication is available at:

www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_123405.pdf



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA106

Health: General Practitioners

Question

Asked by Lord Mawson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information requested is set out in the following table.

All general practitioners (GPs) (excluding retainers and registrars) and proportion of partners, in England as at 1999-2009

YearAll GPs (excluding GP registrars and retainers)Number of GP ProvidersPercentage of GP Providers

2009

35,719

27,613

76.9

2008

34,010

27,347

80.4

2007

33,364

27,342

82.0

2006

33,091

27,691

83.7

2005

32,728

29,340

89.6

2004

31,523

28,781

91.3

2003

30,358

28,646

94.4

2002

29,202

28,117

96.3

2001

28,802

27,938

97.0

2000

28,593

27,791

97.2

1999

28,467

27,681

97.2

Notes: Data as at 1 October 1999 and 30 September 2000-2009. All GPs (excluding retainers and registrars) includes GP Providers and GP Others. GPs categorised as GP Providers are partners within the practice they work in.

Data Quality: The NHS Information Centre for health and social care seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data but responsibility for data accuracy lies with the organisations providing the data. Methods are continually being updated to improve data quality where changes impact on figures already published. This is assessed but unless it is significant at national level figures are not changed. Impact at detailed or local level is footnoted in relevant analyses.

Source: The NHS Information Centre for health and social care General and Personal Medical Services Statistics

Health: GP Commissioning Board

Question

Asked by Lord Mawson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government recognise that consortia will need to be supported in order to commission services that will improve outcomes for patients. From 2011-12, primary care trusts will be supporting prospective consortia to develop their skills by providing financial support as well as assigning key

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA107

individuals to them who have expert skills, such as senior finance managers and people with commissioning expertise and experience.

In the longer term, this will be a key role for the NHS Commissioning Board, which will publish commissioning guidance, model care pathways and model contracts for consortia. Consortia will also have the freedom to consider what additional support they may require to achieve the best outcomes for patients, and we will be exploring further with consortia what constitutes an optimal level of total running costs that meets the twin aims of securing sustainable organisations and maximising resources going to the front line.

Health: Haemophilia

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We have no plans to exempt people with haemophilia from completing an ESA50 questionnaire in regard to their application for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or the reassessment of their incapacity benefit entitlement. This is because entitlement to ESA is not condition-based but is based on someone's functional assessment, which varies between individuals with the same condition. The questionnaire is a valuable way to gather information about an individual and for them to explain in their own words how their condition affects them.

However, claimants who are identified as terminally ill are fast-tracked through the application process, without having to complete a questionnaire or attend a face-to-face assessment and are put straight onto the highest level of benefit.

Health: Influenza

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Chief Medical Officer wrote to general practitioners and other clinicians on 10 January reminding them of the need to be vigilant of bacterial co-infections occurring in patients with flu-like illness. A copy of this letter has been placed in the Library. The Government have no plans to provide additional funding in respect of this specific issue.



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA108

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

Earl Howe: The Government's policy on influenza vaccination is informed by the expert advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). In its statement of 23 July 2010, JCVI recommended that those children with clinical conditions which put them more at risk from the effects of influenza should be offered the vaccine. JCVI does not recommend that children under the age of five outside the at-risk groups should be vaccinated. JCVI met on 30 December 2010 to review the latest evidence on this issue. Following the meeting, the JCVI chairman assured my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health that this advice remains appropriate, and recommended that efforts be focused on maximising vaccine uptake among all those in the risk groups. As with all vaccination programmes, JCVI will keep this matter under review.

Health: Polio

Questions

Asked by Lord Crisp

Baroness Verma: The UK Government are a long term supporter of polio eradication and provide support through annual contributions to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), based in the World Health Organisation. Officials at the Department for International Development (DfID) are closely engaged with GPEI, other key donors and endemic and formerly endemic country governments over the policy challenges to elimination that remain.

In 2010, UK support contributed about 10 per cent of the surveillance, staff and other costs associated with vaccinating up to 167 million children under five years, underpinned by a financial contribution of £100 million over five years. UK funding is not earmarked, enabling GPEI to allocate it against current priorities.

Asked by Lord Crisp

Baroness Verma: The UK Government continue to be committed to polio eradication as an important global goal. The Department for International Development (DfID) is currently reviewing its aid programme to determine how we can achieve better value for money for the taxpayer and accelerate progress towards achieving all the millennium development goals.



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA109

Once the department has considered the findings from its bilateral and multilateral aid reviews, a decision will be made on future funding commitments to polio eradication.

Health: Spending Cuts

Question

Asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Primary care trusts, as with other National Health Service organisations and public bodies, must fulfil their statutory responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, including assessing the impact of their decisions. Guidance is available from a number of sources including the Equality and Human Rights Commission and NHS employers with whom the department is working to support the NHS to implement the Equality Act.

The NHS chief executive wrote to all NHS organisations in September 2010 reminding them that compliance with both the spirit and letter of the Act is essential during transition. The NHS Operating Framework 2011-12 also reminds NHS organisations to ensure that all decisions are taken with due regard to the public sector equality duty to ensure that decisions are fair, transparent, accountable, evidence-based and consider the needs and rights of staff and patients across all the equality characteristics.

Homelessness

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We have carried out an impact assessment on the changes to housing benefit. This was published on 30 November 2010 and is available in the Library. It does not contain an estimate of the impact on homelessness as we cannot anticipate the behaviours of tenants or their landlords. We have taken action to reduce the risk of households becoming homeless with a substantial package of financial and practical support in place, worth £190 million over the spending review period. We are also giving existing customers up to nine months' transitional protection so that they have time to look for alternative accommodation if they need to.



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA110

House of Lords: Catering

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): I have no plans to make this report available, since it was commissioned for internal use by officials to enable them to formulate appropriate proposals for consideration by the Refreshment Committee.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Chairman of Committees: The successful consultant was awarded the contract following a competitive tender exercise, involving a group of pre-selected companies. Assessment of tenders was based on multiple evaluation criteria to establish which supplier provided best value for money and the most appropriate skill set and methodology. The total cost of the review was £15,025.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Chairman of Committees: A large number of recommendations made by the consultant have been implemented. These include a series of "quick wins" and operational improvements, such as simplification of menus, the removal of loss-making vending machines and improvements to purchasing and stock control processes. The Refreshment Committee has also conducted the price review against external benchmarks which the consultant recommended, and prices across the House have recently been increased as a result. Finally, the Refreshment Committee is in the process of considering what changes might be made to the various refreshment outlets in response to the consultant's report. Any major proposed changes which ensue will be communicated to Members in a report to the House by the Refreshment Committee.

House of Lords: Website

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA111

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The number of page views for the House of Lords homepage on the Parliament website in 2010 was as set out in the table below. I apologise that figures are not available for every month for technical reasons.

MonthNumber of page views

January

35,440

February

31,973

March

39,678

April

19,378

May

Unavailable

June

13,095

July

25,871

August

Unavailable

September

Unavailable

October

38,312

November

46,032

December

32,723

Houses of Parliament: Mail

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): In total, 3,082,187 items of mail were received in the Palace of Westminster in 2010. Approximately 25 per cent (770,547) of these items were destined for the House of Lords. These figures do not include parcels, courier items or internal mail.

Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The department does not forecast levels of future house building as delivery will be determined by local housing plans. In the comprehensive spending review we announced almost £4.5 billion investment in new affordable housing to help deliver up to 150,000 affordable homes. However, we are giving housing associations much more flexibility on rents and use of assets, so our aspiration is to deliver even more homes through our investment and reforms. The department will be publishing its impact assessment on the affordable rent model shortly.



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA112

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The UK Border Agency recommends that document checks are conducted on all prospective employees including British citizens as this provides evidence of an open and transparent recruitment process that does not discriminate against individuals on racial grounds. Guidance documents for employers on preventing illegal working include a code of practice that helps employers to comply with the law on illegal working without discriminating against individuals on the basis of their race. This code of practice-Guidance for Employers on the Avoidance of Unlawful Discrimination in Employment Practice While Seeking to Prevent Illegal Working-is available on the UK Border Agency website: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers/preventingillegalworking.

Immigration: Deportation

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government would prefer that those with no basis of stay in the United Kingdom leave the country voluntarily. Where they fail to do so escorts are empowered legally to ensure they comply with their removal. It has been the practice of successive Governments to use private security companies to escort immigration detainees. G4S has a contract to provide such services to the UK Border Agency until the end of April 2011 when the service will be provided by Reliance Secure Task Management.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the demolitions that took place in the village of Dkaika on 12 January 2011 and are concerned at what appears to be a sharp increase in the level of demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem and Area C throughout 2010.

According to UN figures, over 430 Palestinian structures were demolished throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2010. These demolitions rendered almost 600 people homeless. Israel argues that these buildings have been constructed without the required Israeli permits. We do not recognise that Israel has any right to impose such Israeli law on East Jerusalem.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and will continue to raise the matter with the Israeli Government as necessary.

Israel: Trade

Question

Asked by Lord Clinton-Davis

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): In 2009, bilateral trade in goods and services between the UK and Israel exceeded £3 billion. Exports to Israel between January and October 2010 are valued at £1.1 billion, a 19 per cent rise compared to the same period last year. Imports from Israel between January and October 2010 valued £1.3 billion, a 51 per cent rise compared to the same period last year. Full figures for trade in goods and services for the year 2010 are not yet available.

Lebanon

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has said, the collapse of the National Unity Government is an extremely serious

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA114

development which could have grave implications for Lebanon and for regional stability. The UK has called on all parties to work together for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: On 17 January 2011 the prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon passed a draft indictment to the pre-trial judge for review. The contents of the indictment are confidential at this stage.

This independent judicial process is working to end impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon. It is important that the special tribunal be allowed to work freely and we call on all sides to co-operate constructively, and not interfere with due process. The UK along with many other countries will remain unwavering in our support for international justice.

Local Government: Finance

Questions

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The transitional grant ensures that no authority experiences a "revenue spending power" reduction in either 2011-12 or 2012-13 of more than 8.9 per cent. It protects those authorities who are very dependent on central government grants such as the working neighbourhood fund, as well as the capacity of authorities to raise income locally. It was not introduced to change the overall annual profile of the spending plans up to 2014-15, which have been set in order to ensure that the Government tackle the record fiscal deficit. £85 million is to be paid in 2011-12 and represents 0.07 per cent of the £121 billion total net current expenditure budgeted for 2010-11 by those local authorities which receive formula grant. This expenditure is as reported by local authorities on the revenue account (RA) forms submitted annually to the Department for Communities and Local Government. Local authority budgeted expenditure for 2011-12 is not yet available.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA115

Baroness Hanham: Ministers have received over 300 representations on the proposals for the 2011-12 local government finance settlement and have also had a number of meetings with local authorities in the consultation period that ended on 17 January 2011.

Mahmoud Abu Rideh

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Complete information is not available.

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to write to you separately by 4 February.

Music and Dance Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Hall of Birkenhead

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Music and Dance Scheme currently provides training for our most talented children at eight specialist music and dance schools around the country and through a network of 15 centres for advanced training. We have not made a recent assessment of their impact. However, we believe this focus on excellent provision enables us to develop the next generation of professional musicians and dancers, providing those with exceptional talent from all backgrounds with the expert support which they require. Students at centres for advanced training now number over 850 students.

National Assembly for Wales: Referendum

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 sets out the subjects which would be devolved to the National Assembly for Wales in the

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA116

event of an affirmative vote in the referendum on 3 March and the Assembly voting to commence the powers in Part 4 of the Act. Parliament is currently responsible for legislating on those subjects which have not been devolved to the Assembly in Acts of Parliament or through Legislative Competence Orders (LCOs).

National Defence Authorization Act

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): No representations have been made to the US Government on this issue.

National Minimum Wage

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): For pay reference periods starting on or after 1 January 2011, payments from an employer to a worker for travelling expenses which are allowed as deductions from earnings under Section 338 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (and any associated subsistence and accommodation payments) do not count overall when determining whether a worker is paid the national minimum wage.

North and South Korea

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Progress towards a lasting peace will depend on building trust and confidence

24 Jan 2011 : Column WA117

between the south and the north, with the involvement of concerned countries particularly the US and China. The six party talks are key to this. We support that process, and regularly talk to all countries in the region and use our embassy in North Korea to deliver messages. We have made clear that we would seriously consider any request from the parties to provide practical assistance.

Parliamentary Sovereignty

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government note that there are differing views concerning the origin of the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. They consider, however, that it is clear that the legal principle of parliamentary sovereignty is recognised and applied by the courts.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The information is in the table

Average age of state pension claimants in various countries

Gender of claimant
CountriesFemaleMale

Great Britain

71

73

Pakistan

77

75

Bangladesh

76

76

Rep of Ireland

72

72

Spain

68

71

USA

74

75

Source

DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.

Notes:

1. Country code for abroad cases as recorded on the department's administrative systems has been used. This is not necessarily the claimant's permanent place of residence.

2. The median has been used as it is a better measure of "average" than arithmetic mean for skewed distributions. Half of the claimants in each group are younger than the median age and half are older.



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA118

3. Separate figures are given for males and females as the age at which State Pension can be received has not yet been equalised.

Asked by Lord Donoughue

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government do not hold this information. With profits annuitants (WPAs) whose policies commenced before 1 September 1992 did so before any maladministration could have affected their investment decisions. Accordingly, they did not suffer a loss in respect of which they should be compensated.

Post Office: Credit Unions

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We were clear in the policy statement Securing the Post Office Network in the Digital Age, published on 9 November 2010, that we support a stronger link up between the Post Office and credit unions.

In addition to existing arrangements, Post Office Limited is working to extend its co-operation with credit unions, including continued engagement with the Association of British Credit Unions to explore options to further expand services.

Prisons: Prison Officers

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The figures quoted did not accurately reflect the total number of staff in open prisons on a typical night, and related to only a specific group of prisons and not the whole open estate.

Staffing levels in all open prisons have been risk-assessed as appropriate for low risk offenders who are nearing the end of their sentences.



24 Jan 2011 : Column WA119

Public Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): At the June Budget, the Government set out £5.2 billion of spending reductions and £2.8 billion of revenue raising measures to take effect in 2010-11. Overall, the Government set out over £8 billion of measures to reduce public sector net borrowing for 2010-11.

Roads: Fatal Accidents

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Figures collected by the Home Office show:

the number of road traffic collisions involving police vehicles in emergency responses or pursuit and resulting in injuries to the police or members of the public; andthe number of serious and fatal casualties resulting from these collisions.

They are contained in the following table.

The data provided here are a supplementary series collected on behalf of and released with the approval of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). These data are normally used for inspection purposes only.

Number of road traffic collisions (RTCs) involving police vehicles in immediate/emergency response and police pursuits and resulting in injury; andNumber of fatal and serious casualties to the police and members of the public resulting from these collisions1,2,5

England and Wales

2008-092009-10Per cent change between 08-09 and 09-10

RTCs

890

780

-12 per cent

Casualties-fatal3

26

17

-35 per cent

Casualties-serious4

85

88

4 per cent

Source: Home Office from returns (ref ADR 411) received from police forces.


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