|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the most recent figures for the number of farmers participating in (a) the Entry Level Environmental Stewardship scheme, and (b) the Higher Level scheme; and what percentage of the total number of farmers those figures represent.[HL5998]
Participants in all our agri-environment schemes, which include Entry and Higher Level Stewardship, total nearly 57,000, which represents 54 per cent of the total number of farmers who have currently applied under the Single Payment Scheme.
Lord Henley: Natural England, which delivers agri-environment schemes for Defra, has a corporate plan target for uptake of all agri-environment schemes, including Entry and Higher Level Environmental Stewardship, of 70 per cent of available agricultural land in England by March 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose to take forward the recommendation of the England Advisory Group on Responsibility and Cost Sharing on animal health (the Radcliffe report) that there should be an England partnership board within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to identify and implement cost sharing where practical.[HL5986]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Ministers are still considering the advisory group's recommendations. An announcement will be made by April 2011 as committed to in the structural reform plan.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the feasibility study commissioned by the European Commission on possible measures for a Cost Responsibility Sharing Scheme for animal health in Europe to be published.[HL5987]
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what date the decision to give priority to applicants from the civil service over retired officers for appointment as regimental secretaries was made; whether the decision has been endorsed by Ministers; and whether serving civil servants have priority over serving officers. [HL5844]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Restrictions on external recruitment to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have been in place since November 2009. This was approved by Ministers as part of a range of savings measures.
As civilian military support function posts, vacancies for Regimental Secretary appointments are not filled by serving members of the Armed Forces. However, the MoD is pursuing a waiver which, if approved, would allow external applicants to be considered at the same recruiting stage as those within the civil service.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are no plans yet to develop a replacement to the Trident D5 missile, which we expect to remain in service until the 2040s, and we do not anticipate decisions on a D5 replacement being required during the life of this Parliament. There is therefore no further long-term estimate of the potential cost of a replacement missile beyond that published in
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA183
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): A first consultation on the details of a new audit framework is planned for early in 2011, and the Government envisage that it may subsequently publish a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny, ahead of the final introduction of legislation to Parliament. Following such consultation and scrutiny it is the Government's intention to introduce the necessary legislation at the earliest opportunity.
The Government have stated that reforms to the local audit regime are likely to take effect from 2012-13. However, it will take account of the responses to the planned consultation on the new local audit framework and will review the implementation timetable in the light of these views.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effects on bank profits of quantitative easing; and whether they have made bank remuneration committees aware of that effect. [HL6024]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England holds operational responsibility for conducting the asset purchase facility (APF), which includes quantitative easing.
The overall aim of quantitative easing (QE) was to avoid the substantial risk that inflation would undershoot the target in the medium term. The Bank of England has published several assessments of the channels through which QE is expected to work, such as the Quantitative Easing Explained. These can be found on the Bank of England website Bank of England¦Monetary Policy¦Quantitative Easing Explained¦Impact of Asset Purchases.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA184
The Government are in discussion with the banks to see whether a new settlement can be reached whereby smaller bonuses are paid than would be paid otherwise and 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 both Houses informed of all relevant policy developments
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of chronically sick and disabled persons who will have their income reduced as a consequence of projected cuts in public expenditure.[HL6019]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): As individual incomes may be affected by a range of policies across government, it is difficult to estimate how many disabled people may be affected by changes in public expenditure.
The spending review 2010 set departmental budgets for each government department up to 2014-15. At the spending review, the Treasury made a qualitative assessment of the likely impact of the spending review on different groups, including disabled people. These assessments were considered when decisions were made. The Treasury published the document, Overview of Impact of the Spending Review 2010 on Equalitiesalongside the spending review announcement.
We have a summary of the changes which affect disabled people on the Department for Work and Pension's website at www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/spending-review-2010.
It is the responsibility of each department to equality impact assess the impact of its policies on protected groups including disabled people, and to make these assessments publicly available at the most appropriate time. DWP policies are still being formulated and equality impact assessments will be published at the appropriate time.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answers by Lord Henley on 18 January (HL Deb, cols 330-2), how they advise landowners to protect farmland birds against predatory mammals and birds that are themselves protected.[HL6143]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Where landowners identify there is a possible predation problem, with protected birds or mammals having a significant impact of farmland bird populations, they are advised to seek the advice of the relevant statutory nature conservation advisers before taking any action. For mammals and birds protected under the Habitats Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, there exist established systems of licensing that in some circumstances allow action to be taken in relation to the control of protected species for the purposes of protecting farmland birds or other species. The statutory nature conservation advisers will be able to advise what action can be taken and under what circumstances.
Many specialists, however, consider that providing habitat of a suitable quality and quantity for declining bird species will have a greater influence in assisting increases in farmland bird populations than tackling predation from mammals and other birds. Indeed adverse predator impacts can often be linked with habitat degradation. For example, prey populations may be particularly threatened by the additional pressure of predation, if their favoured habitats have been poorly managed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will amend the Civil Service Code to add a prohibition to the section that reads "carry out your fiduciary obligations responsibly (that is make sure public money and other resources are used properly and efficiently)" on not reallocating budget underspends and instead returning slippage money to the Treasury.[HL5891]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Civil Service Code sets out at a high level the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. The updated Civil Service Code published by the coalition Government in November 2010 included a specific new reference to civil servants' fiduciary obligations as set out in the Cabinet Office structural reform plan, and the requirement on civil servants to make sure public money and other resources are used properly and efficiently is already clearly set out.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many and what proportion of civil servants earn (a) less than the Superannuation Act 2010 (Repeal of Limits on Compensation) Order 2010 minimum annual salary of £23,000, and (b) more than the maximum of £149,820 used for the calculation of redundancy payments; and what were the previous actual and legislatively proposed figures.[HL5643]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: More than 50 per cent of the Civil Service, over 265,000 people, earned less than £23,000 on a full-time equivalent basis on 31 March 2010, the latest date for which figures are available.
Previous arrangements for Civil Service compensation did not provide proportionately greater benefits for the lowest paid or restrict benefits for the highest paid. Therefore there are no previous actual or legislatively proposed figures.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will issue a practice direction to criminal courts ensuring judges declare any defendant acquitted at trial, or appellant whose conviction has been quashed as unsafe on appeal, as innocent at the close of the court proceedings; and whether they will ensure that appropriate compensation and aftercare is provided to such persons.[HL6032]
It has long been an important feature of our criminal justice system that a person charged with an offence is presumed to be innocent until proved guilty. A person found not guilty is to be treated as innocent, as too is a person whose conviction has been quashed on appeal.
A person whose conviction is quashed on appeal may apply for compensation under Section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Entitlement to compensation under that provision will be considered shortly by the Supreme Court in the case of Adams.
The Ministry of Justice funds the Miscarriage of Justice Support Service (MJSS) to help those who have had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal. The MJSS provides help with issues such as healthcare, accommodation, finance and relationships. The MJSS' funding has recently been extended for a further year to March 2012 and the Ministry of Justice is working with it to improve the support they provide.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Thornton on 4 March 2010 (WS 184) and the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 13 October 2010 (WA 74), whether they consider that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is "incredibly cheap", as described by the HFEA Chair in the Guardian on 11 January.[HL5868]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The cost effectiveness of a regulator is a relative matter; any judgment should have regard to alternative arrangements that could be made.
As was made clear in the department's review of its arm's-length bodies, Ministers believe that the functions currently performed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority could be performed more cost effectively if transferred and co-ordinated elsewhere.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department does not produce its own labour market forecasts, though for business planning purposes it makes use of projections for jobseeker's allowance volumes that are aligned to the independent claimant count forecast published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). OBR released its latest forecast on 29 November 2010. This included an assessment of the prospects for overall employment-suggesting a broadly stable picture in 2011 followed by improvement from 2012-but not a breakdown by age group or sector.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government's Green Paper Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders, published on 7 December, has set out our proposals to engage with employers to work with offenders, and to identify senior business leaders to champion the role employers play in rehabilitating offenders through skills development and work.
This means involving employers in the design of the curriculum for offender learning and skill development, and increasing the number of employers providing work and training in prison, building on the success of workshops run by Cisco, Bovis Lend Lease, Travis Perkins, Timpsons and others. On release from custody, offenders would also be eligible for early entry to the DWP work programme where providers will prepare them for work and link them up with employers. More
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA188
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As I noted in the Answer I gave on 24 January, Official Report, Col WA 124, the Government asked the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to undertake an assessment of the effect of oil price fluctuations on the public finances. The OBR published its report on 14 September 2010.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The litter convention brought together over 120 partners from business, local authorities and civil society. Delegates debated the issues, shared examples of best practice and agreed a set of principles in tackling litter. A new initiative on litter, Love Where You Live, was announced. This aims to substantially reduce the amount of litter in England by 2020 and is expected to launch publicly in spring 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with other governments (a) in the European Union, and (b) outside the European Union, about their experiences of deposit refund schemes for drinks containers.[HL6216]
Lord Henley: There has been no direct contact with other governments but their experiences have been considered as part of our research and that done by other organisations, and through our contact with businesses that operate in countries with deposit systems.
The approach of the new equality duty focuses on transparency. Public bodies will be required to set specific, measurable equality objectives and to publish information about their performance on equality so that the public can hold them to account.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent conversations they have held with other European Union member states about using the European Union's Association Agreement with Algeria to encourage it to recognise Israel.[HL6051]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have not had any recent conversations with EU partners on this specific issue. But the EU position is set out clearly in the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of December 2010. They noted that: "Peace should lead to the full integration of Israel in its regional environment, along the lines set out in the Arab Peace Initiative".
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent conversations they have held with other European Union member states about using the European Union's Association Agreement with Tunisia to encourage it to recognise Israel.[HL6052]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not had any recent conversations with EU partners on this specific issue. But the EU position is set out clearly in the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of December 2010. They noted that: "Peace should lead to the full integration of Israel in its regional environment, along the lines set out in the Arab Peace Initiative".
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much was levied in penalties by the European Commission on United Kingdom central and local government in 2008-09; and what effect those penalties will have on central and local government services. [HL6220]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what effect the penalties levied by the European Commission on the United Kingdom in 2008-09 will have on the United Kingdom's net contribution to the European Union budget.[HL6221]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The United Kingdom has never incurred a financial penalty under Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (or under the former Article 228 (ex Article 171) of the Treaty Establishing the European Community).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Howell of Guildford on 21 December 2010 (WA 285-7), which areas of United Kingdom national sovereignty have been ceded since 1972 under the European Treaties to (a) unanimity, and (b) majority voting, in the Council of Ministers; which areas are now shared with the European Parliament; and which remain under the sole control of the United Kingdom Parliament. [HL5866]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The European Union may only act to the extent that the member states have decided to confer competence on it to do so. The extent of the EU's competences are set out in Articles 3-6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). In respect of these competences, the ordinary legislative procedure, which involves qualified majority voting and co-decision with the European Parliament, is the standard procedure for decision-making unless a special legislative procedure is otherwise specified. Different arrangements apply to the common foreign and security policy where the adoption of legislative acts is excluded.
With the exception of areas where the EU has exclusive competence, even where competence has been conferred on the EU, this does not preclude action by the member states. For example, although the EU has competence to act in the areas of research, technological development and space, the exercise of that competence shall not result in member states being prevented from acting. Furthermore, where under Article 6 TFEU the treaty has conferred competence on the EU to carry out actions to support, co-ordinate or supplement the actions of the member states in certain areas such as education, tourism and civil protection, it does so without superseding member states' competence in these areas.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 10 January (HL5574), (a) what stone-crushing equipment has been shipped to the Falkland Islands in the last five years and (1) what maximum-sized stones it could crush and (2) what sizes of aggregates it was capable of producing, (b) what was the unit cost of producing and transporting the aggregates to the Falkland Islands by sea, and (c) whether the stone-crushing equipment transported to the Falkland Islands could have been used to produce aggregates for repairing their runway.[HL5685]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) purchased a Terex Pegson mobile crusher plant in May 2005 and a Terex Powerscreen Chieftain 600 mobile screening plant in December 2007.
The maximum size of stone that can be crushed is 125mm and the resulting aggregates are sized 40mm to dust, 30mm-l0mm clean. They are used to produce small volumes of general purpose low-quality aggregate typically used for minor repairs to local stone tracks.
The sand was shipped to the Falklands by the Falkland Islands Resupply Service (FIRS). This service is a funded resupply sailing. Loading at Marchwood and discharging at Mare Harbour are both carried out by existing military port operators for which there is no charge.
Coarse aggregates were provided from a local quarry owned by the Falkland Islands Government. The MoD stone-crushing equipment was not used to repair the Falkland Islands runway as it was unable to produce the required volumes, range of sizes and quality of aggregate required for the project.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Environment Agency carries out visual condition assessments and detailed engineering assessments of London's tidal flood defences at least twice annually. The Thames Barrier is assessed monthly during a test closure. Our Thames Estuary 2100 plan determines actions necessary to reduce the risk of flooding in London and the Thames Estuary until 2100, based on economic costs, benefits and flood risk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has received notification of the export of genetically modified mosquito eggs to Brazil by the United Kingdom company Oxitec for deliberate release experiments under EC regulation 1946/2003; if so, when they were notified; and whether they will provide a copy of the associated risk assessment. [HL6140]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, based on the export notifications sent to them under EC regulation 1946/2003, what were the dates of the exports of genetically modified mosquito eggs by the United Kingdom company Oxitec to (a) the Cayman Islands, (b) Malaysia, (c) Brazil, (d) France, (e) India, (f) Singapore, (g) Thailand, (h) the United States, and (i) Vietnam.[HL6141]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Exports of genetically modified organisms are only required to be notified to the UK competent authority under regulation 1946/2003 if they are to be exported to a non-EU country for release into the environment. Movements of GMOs between EU member states are not covered by this requirement. Nor are exports to non-EU countries where the GMO is intended for contained use, as was the case in respect of the shipment of mosquito eggs by Oxitec to Malaysia, Brazil, India, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. The date of the export of GM mosquito eggs to the Cayman Islands for release to the environment was 4 November 2009.
If importing nations wish to release GM mosquitoes descended from those under contained use they will do so under their own local legislation. Where the country of import is also a party to the Cartagena Protocol, an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms, it will be required to notify such a decision to the biosafety clearing house.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Government departments, agencies and contractors are required to ensure that their budgets and bids
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA195
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: If the provision of training to departmental staff is part of the requirement for goods or services, this should be specified and is likely to form part of the evaluation process.
In regard to contractors' training of their staff working on government contracts, potential contractors' technical and professional capability to perform a contract is assessed at the selection stage of a procurement. Contract management can be used to check that capability is sustained over the life of the contract.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will discipline those officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade and Investment who have disregarded their policy on spending restraint and their commitment to cost savings in public sector expenditure.[HL5892]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has made clear since taking office that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)'s budget has to be spent carefully and wisely and that he will hold budget holders to account. He called together the acting chief executive of UK Trade and Investment and senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials to underline and reiterate the importance of this.
All officials are governed by the Civil Service Code, which requires public money and other resources to be used properly and efficiently; and all expenditure is incurred in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the HM Treasury handbook on regularity and propriety.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 20 December (WA 265), how they will keep Parliament informed of the economic value of the savings achieved as a consequence of the implementation of the recommendations made by Sir Philip Green in his review of the efficiency of government expenditure processes.[HL5601]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Sir Philip Green's recommendations have been taken into account as part of the current efficiency programmes already under way. Parliament will be kept informed on the outcomes of these programmes in the usual way.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The programme is set by the team's quarterly steering board. Its current work programme for the beginning of this year includes a focus on health, money (in particular consumer empowerment) and the environment.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The team will be shortly setting its budget for the coming financial year. As part of our drive to improve transparency, the number of staff and staff costs will be published in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have proposals for the presentation on their web pages of details of services and products provided by contractors to departments and agencies in order to promote British organisations' ability to provide high-quality services and products.[HL6113]
Tender documents and contracts are published on Contracts Finder. Contracts Finder was made available to the public in early January and is the Government's single platform for providing access to public sector procurement-related information and documentation, including procurement opportunities, free of charge. Contracts Finder can be found at www.businesslink. gov.uk/contractsfinder/.
Contracts Finder includes contracts awarded to all suppliers, regardless of nationality. As public procurement operates in open EU and international markets it would be inappropriate to restrict publication to contracts won by UK companies. Over time, greater transparency of opportunities, tender documents and contracts is likely to lead to significant benefits including increased competition and better value for money.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a former Minister is entitled to publish a memoir about his stewardship in public office and to suppress public disclosure of his correspondence relating to the information and opinions contained in the memoir; and, if so, upon what basis.[HL6146]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Former Ministers intending to publish their memoirs are required to conform to the principles set out in the Radcliffe report of 1976 (Cm 6386), a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the value of the contract between NHS London and KPMG to help develop general practitioner commissioning consortia pathfinders; how long it is for; and what are the break points and penalty clauses.[HL6091]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the success criteria in the contract between NHS London and KPMG to help develop general practitioner commissioning consortia pathfinders; and what success fees are in it.[HL6092]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): This is a matter for NHS London. The noble Lord may wish to contact Professor Mike Spyer, interim chair of the board, for further information.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The NHS Information Centre does not identify professors of general practice or professors in secondary care medicine in its workforce census. The following table gives the number of consultants and general practitioners (GPs) in England as at 30 September 2009, the latest data available.
|All Consultants and GPs (excluding retainers and registrars) in England|
2. The job role of professor is also not used within Medical and Dental census payscale groupings. While there may be professors counted within the census, it is not possible to separately identify them from other grades
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not hold this information centrally. The noble Lord may wish to contact the Chair of NHS London direct.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Earl Howe on 13 January (HL Deb, col 1529), how many people have died since 2000 from adverse reactions to (a) herbal medicines, and (b) prescribed drugs.[HL6114]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Commission for Human Medicines (CHM) run a spontaneous adverse drug reaction reporting scheme (the Yellow Card scheme) which collates suspected adverse drug reaction (ADR) reports from health professionals, patients and indirectly via the pharmaceutical industry. Since 2000 a total of 245,386 ADR reports have been received via the Yellow Card scheme; of these, 837 ADR reports have been received in association with herbal medicines. Since 2000 10,446 (4 per cent) ADR reports have reported a fatal outcome; of these fatal ADR reports, eight have been reported in association with herbal medicines.
These data refer to ADR reports for all medicines and do not specifically relate to medicines obtained with a prescription. The MHRA's ADR database does not distinguish between how the medicine was obtained i.e. via prescription or over the counter.
The number of reports received via the Yellow Card scheme does not directly equate to the number of people who suffer adverse reactions in the general population to medicines as this scheme is associated with an unknown level of underreporting. A specific factor with underreporting of herbal medicines is that healthcare professionals often may not be aware where their patients have been taking herbal medicines.
It should be noted that healthcare professionals are asked to report suspected adverse reactions on a voluntary basis and the submission of a report does not mean that the reaction cited was definitely caused by the medicine or herbal.
Many factors have to be taken into account in assessing causal relationships including temporal association, the possible contribution of concomitant medication and the underlying disease being treated.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government welcome genuine students from other countries to study at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. They contribute to the diversity of our campuses; support our research capacity as well as providing a valuable source of income. In higher education alone, students from outside the European Union contribute almost £2.2 billion a year in tuition fees. Higher Education Statistics Agency figures published earlier this month show that 405,805 students from outside the United Kingdom were enrolled at UK HEIs in 2009-10, indicating the high regard in which the UK higher education sector is held around the world.
Lord Henley: Higher Education Statistics Agency data on institutional income for academic year 2008-09 indicate that higher education institutions in the United Kingdom received nearly £2.2 billion in tuition fee income from international students from outside the European Union. This is the latest year for which data are available.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Staff undertaking night duty receive either overtime or a flat rate allowance calculated on the basis of the sitting patterns of the House over a rolling period. The only exceptions are certain senior Clerks and Black Rod, who do not receive additional remuneration.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): On 7 December, we published a public consultation-The Student Immigration System: A Consultation. As of 17 January 2011 we have received over 22,000 responses through the online survey, postal and e-mail submissions. Officials of the UK Border Agency have also spoken directly with representatives
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA201
Baroness Neville-Jones: We carried out an extensive consultation on changes to economic migration and, in reaching final decisions, took account of the views of business, for example as regards intra-company transferees, prioritising tier 2 migrants over tier 1, and the needs of the scientific research community. We are also consulting on changes to the student visa system.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 21 December 2010 (WA 296-7), whether they will now raise the specific issue of the Devadasi system with the Government of India and British non-governmental organisations; and whether they have estimated the numbers of girls involved from other sources.[HL6008]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We will include the issue of the Devadasi system in our ongoing dialogue on women's rights issues with the Government of India and with civil society organisations in both the UK and India. As the practice is formally prohibited it is difficult to obtain exact numbers, however Anti-Slavery International highlights official figures of around 17,000 women in Andhra Pradesh and 23,000 in Karnataka alone.
The Department for International Development (DfID) has worked extensively to help tackle gender inequality and discrimination against women in India. The EU also funded a project on Choice, Dignity and Integration for Devadasi (temple prostitutes) and the socially excluded in Karnataka from January 2008 to December 2010.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the government of Israel following the arrest of Dr Omar Abdul Razeq, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, at Salfit earlier this month; and whether they have been informed of whether he has since been released and his possessions returned.[HL5925]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We understand that Dr Omar Abdul Razeq was arrested on 11 January 2011 at his home in the city of Salfit. He appeared at court on 18 January 2011 when he was remanded in custody for a further eight days to allow additional time for questioning. The next hearing in his case will be held on 25 or 26 January 2011. No formal charges have yet been brought against him. We are not aware that his possessions have been returned to him or his family.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the position of European Union diplomats that east Jerusalem should be treated as the future capital of Palestine; and whether they will support that move.[HL5936]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We support the position set out in the December 2010 EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions that a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both Israel and Palestine.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 10 January (WA 404), when the members of the Migration Advisory Committee were reappointed; whether there was a press statement issued publicising this fact; why all non ex-officio members appointed are labour market economists; and, as there are no fixed criteria for appointing members, whether they will increase its capacity by the appointment of additional members with other migration experience. [HL5889]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The reappointment of the members of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was announced in a news article on the UK Border Agency's website on 6 January. The appointment of labour market economists to these positions is consistent with the MAC's purpose, which is to advise on labour market needs and economic impacts in the context of the development of policy on migration. The Government have no plans to augment the membership of the MAC.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Since its formation the National Forest Company has received the following grant in aid from Defra and its predecessors:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 10 January (WA 406), why they ended the practice of routinely publishing their press statements' "Notes to Editors" on the Northern Ireland Office's media centre website; how members of the public can find the biographical details of those appointed to public bodies; and whether they will in future add those details within press statements.[HL5888]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportions of claimants of state retirement pensions (a) take their full entitlement on retirement, (b) defer their pension in favour of an enhanced pension taken subsequently, and (c) defer their pension in favour of a lump sum payment.[HL5851]
|State pension on-flows in the six months to March 2010 by deferment status|
|All||No deferment||Enhanced pension only||Lump sum and increments||Lump sum only|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Howell of Guildford on 10 January (WA 400 and 415), whether, in determining what representations to make to the governments of other countries about discrimination, they regard a sustained exodus of members of a religious minority as one indicator of the extent of discrimination against members of that minority in that country.[HL6027]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Persecution of religious groups or minorities manifests itself in a variety of ways. A sustained exodus of members of a religious minority can be one indicator of such persecution or discrimination. But persecution of religious groups or minorities frequently manifests itself in a variety of ways. Our overseas missions have a responsibility to monitor the human rights in their host countries and routinely raise our concerns with their Governments. Where possible our embassies take action on individual cases where persecution or discrimination has occurred and lobby for changes in discriminatory practices and laws. We condemn all instances of violence and discrimination against individuals and groups because of their faith or belief.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Howell of Guildford on 10 January (WA 400 and 415), whether, in determining the priorities, care and vigour with which they promote the interests of religious minorities in other countries, they take full account of the history and the constitution of the United Kingdom. [HL6028]
Lord Howell of Guildford: In his speech on Britain's values in a networked world, on 15 September 2010, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made it clear that the UK "must have a foreign policy based on values, as an extension of our identity as a society", and that we "should always seek to reflect the best of British society". This includes our tolerance of all religions in the UK. We reflect this internationally in the work the Foreign and Commonwealth Office undertakes to support the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and the right to freedom of opinion and expression as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the full implementation of the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Hill of Oareford on 27 September (WA 460-1) and 8 November (WA 39) and the letters from HM Chief Inspector dated 21 July and 2 November 2010, how many school inspections were carried out by Ofsted in the years 2008-09 and 2009-10; and how many they estimate there will be in 2010-11.[HL5894]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Hill of Oareford on 27 September (WA 460-1) and 8 November (WA 39) and the letters from HM Chief Inspector dated 21 July and 2 November 2010, how many school inspections were carried out by contractors in the years 2008-09 and 2009-10; and how many they estimate there will be in 2010-11.[HL5895]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Hill of Oareford on 27 September (WA 460-1) and 8 November (WA 39) and the letters from HM Chief Inspector dated 21 July and 2 November 2010, how many people were engaged in each school inspection in the years 2008-09 and 2009-10; and how many they estimate there will be in 2010-11.[HL5896]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Hill of Oareford on 27 September (WA 460-1) and 8 November (WA 39) and the letters from HM Chief Inspector dated 21 July and 2 November 2010, how many days school inspections took including preparation visits and follow-up in the years 2008-09 and 2009-10; and how many they estimate there will be in 2010-11. [HL5897]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): These are matters for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the noble Lord and a copy of her reply has been placed in the House Libraries.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Charitable independent schools already deliver a wide range of benefits, not just in the high standards of education they provide, but also in the work they do in their communities, for example through outreach, partnerships with other schools, opening up their facilities, and bursaries to help the less well-off.
The Charity Commission published Guidance for charities on the public benefit requirement in 2008. The legal basis of the commission's guidance has been challenged by the Independent Schools Council, and the Attorney-General has made a reference to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery) inviting it to clarify the law that underpins the guidance. It would be inappropriate to comment further ahead of the tribunal's ruling.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who they consulted in their review which led to the decision to designate the sea off Southwold, Suffolk, as the only area in the United Kingdom where ship-to-ship transfers of oil will be permitted from April 2011. [HL5632]
Earl Attlee: The Shipping Minister, Mike Penning, made a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament on 8 July 2010 (Official Report, columns WS17-18), announcing the review of the Merchant Shipping (Ship-to-Ship Transfers) Regulations 2010 and inviting all interested parties to set out their views on the regulations. The text of the Written Ministerial Statement was placed on the Department for Transport's website on that same day.
Additionally, the Minister sent letters to a number of persons and bodies which had expressed, or were known to have, an interest in the Merchant Shipping (Ship-to-Ship Transfers) Regulations 2010, drawing their attention to the review. The Minister sent letters to 25 MPs, three Scottish Ministers, three industry bodies and one environmental non-governmental organisation.
A broad spectrum of persons and bodies went on to make representations to the Minister in the course of the review. A summary table setting out the substantive points made in the written representations which were received by the Minister and at the meetings which the Minister held at the request of interested parties has been placed on the department's website and may
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA207
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 24 November 2010 (WA 360), why their policy of ceasing the Maritime and Coastguard Agency emergency tender vessel contract and relying on the spot charter market as an alternative is not applied to the remaining general lighthouse authorities fleet.[HL5808]
Earl Attlee: The general lighthouse authorities deploy and utilise their fleet daily to meet their statutory requirements under the Merchant Shipping Act. The general lighthouse authorities have entirely different roles and responsibilities from those of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Trinity House has sought the advice of three independent expert maritime consultants, supported by Queen's Counsel legal advice, all of which showed that the use of the spot chartering market could not be relied upon to deliver its statutory duties.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of recent developments in Tunisia; and whether they and their European Union partners will assist in restoring the rule of law and democratic government.[HL5922]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Following the resignation of Ben Ali, Prime Minister Ghannouchi was asked by the interim president to form a government of national unity, the membership of which was announced on 17 January 2011. The Prime Minister also announced that elections would take place within six months under international supervision and a range of measures to broaden political representation and freedoms would be introduced.
On 17 January 2011 EU High Representative Catherine Ashton issued a joint statement with Commissioner Stefan Fule which made clear that the EU stands ready to provide immediate assistance to prepare and organise the electoral process as well as the broader support necessary for a genuine democratic transition. We are in frequent contact with EU partners to ensure this commitment is implemented.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Following the resignation of Ben Ali, Prime Minister Ghannouchi was asked by the interim president to form a government of national unity, the membership of which was announced on 17 January 2011. The Prime Minister also announced that elections would take place within six months under international supervision and a range of measures to broaden political representation and freedoms would be introduced.
We hope that all Tunisians can work together to restore peace and improve governance and democratic accountability. We are working with partners, including in the EU, to promote political reform. We will be seeking to engage the Tunisian authorities as soon as possible to facilitate this.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the 2010 annual report of the Human Rights Association of Turkey; and what assessment they have made of its impact on Turkey's application for European Union membership. [HL5927]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have not made an independent assessment of the report. The EU Commission makes its own assessment of Turkey's progress against the EU accession criteria and publishes an annual progress report. The 2010 report was published on 9 November 2010 and subsequently discussed by member states. It includes an assessment of human rights, noting that "Overall, some progress was made on observance of international human rights law. However, a number of reforms have been outstanding for several years. Legislation on human rights institutions needs to be brought fully in line with UN principles".
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the tabling in the Ugandan Parliament of the Traditional Leaders Bill to ban traditional and cultural Ugandan leaders from participating in partisan politics.[HL5984]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government of Uganda tabled a bill on traditional leaders in
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA209
Supporters of the Kabaka of Buganda have alleged that the bill is intended to reduce his influence, although we are not aware that any of Uganda's traditional rulers contest the constitutional provision that they should remain above partisan politics. We will continue to urge the Ugandan authorities to ensure that any new legislation strikes an appropriate and legitimate balance between regulation and protection of the right to freedom of expression.
Lord Henley: University income is made up of a number of funding streams from public, private and charitable sources. In terms of public funding, our reforms to higher education will shift the balance of resources for teaching from direct grant to institutions to funding that follows the choices made by individual students. This will provide strong incentives for institutions to focus on providing high quality teaching as efficiently as possible. Over time, popular and successful institutions will be able to grow and we expect new providers to enter the sector provided they can offer teaching to the high standards students will expect. We do not expect the overall income of the sector to reduce and we expect improved teaching quality and better informed students to have a positive impact on the economy. In recognition that the UK's research base is a vital national asset and critical to long-term economic growth, funding for science and research programmes has been protected in cash terms in a ring-fenced budget for the spending review period. Around half of this funding currently goes directly into universities. The remainder goes to institutes, many of which are sited in universities, and to large facilities, many of which are used by university researchers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what activities the Minister responsible for issues relating to violence against women in the developing world has undertaken; and whether the Minister maintains regular
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA210
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government believe that violence against women and girls overseas is an issue that needs to be addressed and that the UK can contribute by working with our partners in the developing world. In support of this, the role of the ministerial champion for tackling violence against women overseas was confirmed on 25th November 2010.
The role is still in development but will be responsible for providing policy coherence and coordination across Whitehall, ensuring that violence against women and girls is fully integrated into our international work. The ministerial champion will represent the United Kingdom overseas, building our diplomatic efforts and raising the profile of this issue with international partners.
The Department for International Development, along with the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence and Government Equalities Office, all work on tackling violence against women overseas. Ministerial responsibility for taking forward the UK's work overseas will continue to rest with relevant departmental Ministers and information on progress on this agenda is shared in bilaterals and at the inter-ministerial group on violence against women and girls chaired by the Home Secretary.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Volunteering Infrastructure Programme will connect people with local volunteering opportunities and support organisations to manage volunteers. The Government are currently considering the shape of the programme, including the eligibility criteria.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent studies have been conducted on the quality of water in the aquifers that supply major cities in south Wales which may have been subject to leaching of toxic chemicals from Brofiscin Quarry.[HL6144]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The major cities of South Wales are
27 Jan 2011 : Column WA211
Studies continue to be undertaken on the aquifer affected directly by the waste in Brofiscin quarry, which is not exploited for public water supply. The evidence to date shows that the waste is unlikely to impact on the good status under the water framework directive of the south-east valleys carboniferous limestone block.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the present entitlements under the Assisted Prisons Visits Scheme for families of young people in custody; when they were set; and when they are next due to be reviewed.[HL6033]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Assisted Prison Visits Scheme covers families of young people placed in youth offender institutions. The scheme entitlements are the same as for visitors and families of adult offenders in HM prisons. The specific entitlements are in the note below.
An assisted family visits scheme is also provided for sentenced young people in secure training centres and secure children's homes which reimburses the young person's family for the cost of visiting them once a week.
|Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|