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31 Jan 2011 : Column WA213

Written Answers

Monday 31 January 2011

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The application is under active consideration and a decision is expected to be implemented within the next 14 days.

Burma

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Verma: A number of possible humanitarian consequences might arise from an increase in conflict between the Burmese army and armed ethnic groups in Burma. The Governments of countries neighbouring Burma are aware of the potential for increased flows of refugees following any upsurge in fighting, as are the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which provide assistance to Burmese refugees in Thailand. Members of the NGO Committee for the Co-ordination of Services to Displaced Persons in Thailand (CCSDPT) have undertaken contingency planning for possible increased humanitarian needs on the Thailand-Burma border. The Department for International Development (DfID) is providing about £1.6 million this financial year to two CCSDPT member organisations for food, housing, other supplies and improved access to legal assistance for Burmese refugees in Thailand.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Verma: The detailed design of the new Three Millennium Development Goal (3MDG) Fund in Burma is still under consideration. It is expected that the fund will focus on aid delivered inside Burma. However, a number of alternative means are available for delivering aid to Burma cross-border from neighbouring countries. In 2010, the Department for International Development (DfID) provided £825,000 in cross-border health sector aid to ethnic minority groups inside Burma.



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College of Social Work

Questions

Asked by Lord Rea

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government do not seek to influence any partnership agreements the College of Social Work might establish once it emerges from the current development stage and have not entered into any agreements or contracts with UNISON or any other organisation on membership or trade union services. The establishment process for the college was guided from January to September 2010 by a development group with representation from across the social work sector, including frontline practitioners, employer representatives, regulators, educators, workforce organisations and the British Association of Social Workers, UNISON and ASPECT. Since September, interim co-chairs and an interim board have been appointed who are taking forward this work and have maintained links with all parties.

Asked by Lord Rea

Lord Hill of Oareford: The Social Care Institute for Excellence has been asked to facilitate the establishment of the College of Social Work, providing administrative support and expertise in a developmental phase of two years. Neither government nor SCIE seek to influence the form or function of the emerging college. SCIE will have no role in the governance of the college that emerges.

Asked by Lord Rea

Lord Hill of Oareford: The Social Care Institute for Excellence has been asked to facilitate the establishment of the College of Social Work, providing administrative support and expertise in a developmental phase of two years. The Department of Health has made £2.5 million available for this work. The Department of Education has committed to match this funding and officials are in discussions as to the appropriate time to make funds available to meet the emerging business development plan.

Asked by Lord Rea



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Lord Hill of Oareford: We note that the British Association of Social Workers is currently disputing the right of the College of Social Work to use that name. There are a number of rules and processes, including legislation, that govern the registration and use of company names and officials have written to both parties to draw their attention to relevant considerations.

Asked by Lord Rea

Lord Hill of Oareford: It is important that the College of Social Work should be independent and self funding. The Government have committed to provide funds for development and start-up only and has asked the Social Care Institute for Excellence to facilitate this process, including the establishment of a steering group to oversee the appointment of an interim chair and board, provision of a project director and team, development of proposals for the form, function and legal status of the college and provision of a range of corporate services including accommodation, communications, website, HR, procurement and finance. We are assured that all funds have been administered in line with this request.

Asked by Lord Rea

Lord Hill of Oareford: Ministers have already discussed this matter with the chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers. They have recently written to both the College of Social Work and the British Association of Social Workers urging the two organisations to resume discussions on convergence and offering their services to help, if necessary.

Community Budget

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): A community budget is a budget that organises public spending by place, rather than by individual organisations or service. This first phase of community budgets will cover 16 areas and will focus on tackling families with multiple problems. These areas are currently identifying the outcomes they want to achieve and are developing the partnerships and services needed to deliver these outcomes. It will be for each place to make the case for

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pulling together the public resources they believe should be included in their community budget to deliver these outcomes.

The 16 areas are:

Birmingham;Blackburn-with-Darwen;Blackpool;Bradford;Essex;Greater Manchester (a group of 10 councils);Hull;Kent;Leicestershire;Lincolnshire;London Borough of Barnet;London Borough of Croydon;London Borough of Islington;London Borough of Lewisham;the London Boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Wandsworth; andSwindon.

Crime: Statistics

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

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 Jil Matheson, National Statistician, to Lord Laird, dated January 2011.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent parliamentary questions asking:

1.When Her Majesty's Government expects to receive the report of the review of crime statistics I am undertaking (HL6347)

2.Which organisations will be consulted during the review (HL6348)

The review will report to the Home Secretary by the end of April 2011.

The review is being conducted in an open and transparent way, and will consult a wide range of organisations, users, academics and the public. Organisations being consulted include Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Crime and Justice Statistics User Network, the British Society of Criminology and the Economic and Social Data Service. I will also consult government users of crime statistics, Home Office Ministers and Opposition spokespersons.

A web-based consultation will be conducted which will invite views from all interested parties including the public.



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Disabled People: Holiday Cover

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Children who have underlying entitlement to disability living allowance whilst at a residential school will, on application at the appropriate time, have payment of either component restored for holiday periods.

We will be making clearer as we move towards the Bill exactly how the measure to cease paying mobility component of DLA to people in care homes will affect particular groups.

Disabled People: Ordinary Residence Disputes

Question

Asked by Baroness Wilkins

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There have been no such disputes as personal care has never been provided free of charge in England. Primary care trusts are not responsible for the provision of personal social care or ordinary residence disputes.

Information on local authorities' costs of ordinary residence disputes has never been collected. This is because the essential business needs of the department cannot justify the additional administrative burden on the bodies that would have to provide the data.

Education Maintenance Allowance

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

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 currently 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.



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Education: Standards

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, sets out the Government's plans to raise standards in education.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the proportion of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycles at the centres referred to in the noble Lord's Question, in which between 20 and 85 eggs were retrieved, are shown in the following table:

Centre Code1991-20022003-2009

0017

7.71%

7.48%

0076

8.54%

9.68%

HFEA has further advised that centre 0162 does not carry out IVF treatments.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Earl Howe: The Medical Research Council has advised that, at present, there is no clear and quantitative means for identifying those oocytes with the potential to develop disease without destroying the oocytes. Researchers are exploring the possibility of testing the polar bodies. This method would, however, be limited in its reliability as mitochondria do not segregate equally between oocytes and the polar body and there would be quite a high risk that the polar body was not

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representative of the whole oocyte. In addition, polar bodies are very small and degenerate very easily so this would be a very difficult technique to develop. While it is conceivable that a test could be developed for heteroplasmicity, this technique would not help women who were homoplasmic.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that its Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee keeps under review scientific developments relevant to assisted conception and human embryo research. The committee considered techniques for the avoidance of mitochondrial disease at its meeting of 13 May 2010. The relevant papers and minutes of that meeting are available on the HFEA's website.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Earl Howe: The Government have no plans to commission a scientific review of stem cell research and regenerative medicine from one of the academies or learned societies. However, the Government are considering their developments in regenerative medicine and may revisit this question once this process is completed towards the end of 2011.

I am advised that the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology will advise their Lordships' House on developments in stem cell research and their application during 2011.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee is a subcommittee providing advice to the authority. It does not advise Government on regenerative medicine issues.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) held a scientific workshop on a topic of mutual interest.

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Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) represents a research area with a relatively small number of researchers, and where international collaboration might offer advantages due to the technical difficulties being tackled. The MRC and CIRM wished to examine the progress of the science in this area, and form a view as to whether human SCNT offered any specific opportunities compared to other methods of cellular reprogramming, and whether there might be a need for funding agencies to collaborate specifically in this area. The conclusion from the assembled expert working group was that although human SCNT remained technically challenging, much progress was being made and that there were several potential benefits that could emerge through SCNT.

The forthcoming government review will be looking at current progress and the future trajectory of regenerative medicine, with a view to identifying how best to support UK scientists in delivering stem-cell based therapies and maintain the UK at the forefront in this area. It is not evident at present which area of stem cell research may deliver the most effective treatments for particular conditions, and the review will therefore consider all types of stem cell research.

In keeping with the Haldane principle, prioritisation of an individual Research Council's spending within its allocation is not a decision for Ministers. Such decisions are rightly left to those best placed to evaluate the scientific efficacy of proposed research.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Earl Howe: The regulatory framework contained in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, safeguards the status of the human embryo and its use in treatment and research. These safeguards

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will remain in place regardless of any change in the regulator. This is clear and has been acknowledged by leading assisted reproduction professional bodies and clinicians following Professor Jardine's comments.

One of the bodies to whom it is proposed to transfer functions currently carried out by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England and has a key responsibility in the overall assurance of essential levels of safety and quality of health and adult social care services. It also has responsibilities for:

providing independent assurance and publishing information on the safety and quality of services;registering providers of regulated activities (including National Health Service, adult social care and independent sector healthcare providers);monitoring compliance with a set of registration requirements;using tough enforcement powers, if necessary, to ensure service providers meet requirements;assessing the performance of providers and commissioners;undertaking special reviews of particular services at a national level, looking across providers and commissioners of health and adult social care;monitoring the use of the Mental Health Act; andhelping manage the impact of regulation on service providers and commissioners.

Discussions are taking place between the department, HFEA, CQC and other regulatory bodies on the transfer of the functions currently carried out by the HFEA and how they will be discharged in the future, including the scope for streamlined and lighter-touch regulation. The proposals will be subject to a public consultation later in the year. Subject to the ongoing discussions over the forthcoming months, we envisage that the consultation will include seeking comments on the body or bodies best suited to take on the range of information functions currently discharged by the HFEA.

Around 80 per cent of the centres currently licensed by the HFEA are either also regulated by the CQC or are in premises the CQC regulates. The streamlining of regulatory functions, with the resulting removal of overlap between the regulatory bodies, is expected to generate savings from the rationalisation of support functions, including human resources, information technology, legal services and communications. In the financial year 2009-10 the HFEA's operational budget was £7.2 million. We envisage savings not only in these costs but also in the cost to the regulated bodies of having to demonstrate compliance with the current regulatory systems. Analysis of this will develop during the consultation process.



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Energy: Carbon Emissions

Questions

Asked by Lord Jenkin of Roding

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The security of EU registries is very important to the continued successful operation of the EU Carbon Market. The UK Registry Administrator, the Environment Agency, has assessed the risk to UK account holders and concluded that because of the security systems used in the UK registry, successful attacks are unlikely. The UK Government are working with the European Commission and other member states to ensure a similar level of security in all national registries and to ensure that the planned single Union registry meets stringent security requirements when it opens in 2012.

At present, all registries across Europe have been closed. The UK continues to work with the European Commission to set appropriate minimum requirements for all EU registries to reopen.

Asked by Lord Jenkin of Roding

Lord Marland: On 19 January, the EU Commission terminated all internal and international transactions in all EU ETS registries because of concerns about registry security. The suspension means that all member states, national registries are unable to transfer allowances either within or between each other. However, operators are still able to surrender allowances for compliance purposes. The EU's carbon trading exchanges in the financial markets continue to operate.

On 24 January, the Commission and member states reached an agreement on the minimum level of registry security required to reopen national registries. The Environment Agency is currently working with its contractors to demonstrate that the UK registry meets these requirements. The Environment Agency is working to ensure the UK registry is reopened as soon as possible.

HMG have made no estimate of the weekly cost to carbon traders of the temporary suspension of transfers in the spot market (which allows for instant delivery of allowances bought on the secondary market).



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The carbon market is predominately based in the UK. Spot trading accounts for around 5 per cent of UK's carbon trading, with the remaining 95 per cent accounted for by futures trading.

The suspension has had a limited effect on trading volumes, with an average of 17 million allowances traded since spot contracts transfers were suspended on 20 January. This represents a 16 per cent increase from average volumes traded since the beginning of the year and it is broadly similar to average volumes traded in January last year (18 million) However, we recognise that if registries remain closed, we could start to see greater trading losses and as such are working to get the registry reopened as soon as possible.

Energy: Light Bulbs

Questions

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Health Protection Agency (HPA) carried out a study on the emissions from commercially available compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which included both visible light and ultraviolet emissions. The results have been published (Optical Radiation Emissions from Compact Fluorescent Lamps M Khazova and J B O'Hagan, Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 2008, 131(4):521-525; doi:10.1093/rpd/ncn234). This paper is available at: http://rpd.oxfordjournals.org/content/131/4/521.full.pdf+html.

The results did not suggest that the emissions were likely to cause health effects in the general population, although HPA issued precautionary advice because approximately 20 per cent of the open (single envelope) CFLs studied emitted levels of ultraviolet radiation that could result in the guideline levels recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection being exceeded by people exposed within less than 30 centimetres (one foot) of the light bulb. In encapsulated (double envelope) light bulbs, the ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by the outer glass container. This advice is available on the HPA website at: www.hpa.org.uk/NewsCentre/NationalPressReleases/ 2008PressReleases/081009Emissionsfromcompactfluorescentlights/.

The HPA continues to monitor technology developments in this area, including the various other types of energy saving lights, as part of its ongoing research programme on optical radiation safety.

The independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation prepared a comprehensive review of the health effects from ultraviolet radiation (Documents of the NRPB Volume 13, No. 1, 2002), available at: www.hpa.org.uk/Publications/Radiation/NPRBArchive/DocumentsOfTheNRPB/Absd1301/.



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This report recognised that some people are particularly sensitive to ultraviolet radiation and light. The European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks is currently updating its opinion on light sensitivity.

Rashes have many causes, which can only be ascertained following clinical investigation. The HPA has offered to work with clinicians who are treating photosensitive patients to assess the ultraviolet and light exposure that is implicated in adverse effects.

Equality Duty

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Verma: The new equality duty will not impose any legal obligations on public authorities to monitor their workforces in terms of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disability nor to undertake equality impact assessments of all policies.

The duty does however require public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. To help achieve this, public authorities should seek to understand any unintended consequences of their policies and practices on their employees and to consider action as appropriate.

The consultation document on the draft specific duties regulations includes a regulatory impact assessment which sets out the annual costs in detail. The consultation document, including the regulatory impact assessment, is available on the Government Equalities Office website at www.equalities.gov.uk.

EU: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The powers of the European Union do not extend to legislation which sets levels of remuneration. The European

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Union does, however, have competence in the area of company law. This extends beyond the banking sector and includes disclosure and accountability matters in relation to remuneration.

European Union

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Ministers across the Government have taken every opportunity to inform the President of the European Council, the Commission, and leaders of other member states of the coalition programme for Government commitment. The Government will not agree to any treaty change which transfers competence or powers from the UK to the EU over the course of this Parliament.

Fire Services

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): As fire service jobs are a local matter, determined by individual fire and rescue authorities, no formal estimation of the number of reductions in fire service jobs has been undertaken by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Frontline Services: Spending Cuts

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Spending Review announced plans to increase NHS spending in real terms in each year of the Parliament, as well as to make increases in the schools budget in real terms every year. In other areas, the scale of the deficit means that funding will be reduced.



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Savings from reducing waste, inefficiency and bureaucracy will enable resources to be focused on frontline services. This includes decisive action to cut the cost of central government, with a 34 per cent cut in administration budgets across Whitehall and its arm's-length bodies.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Verma: Given that the Karni crossing is not permitted to operate at full capacity, and is reportedly set to close entirely, Kerem Shalom is the only crossing that can process significant volumes of goods into Gaza. Although we encourage Israel's efforts to expand the facilities at Kerem Shalom, we judge them to be insufficient to meet Gaza's economic and reconstruction import needs.

The UK continues to call on Israel to fully implement their 20 June 2010 announcement to allow greater volumes of goods into Gaza, including "dual-use" materials for international reconstruction projects. We also encourage Israel's recent announcement on allowing limited exports from Gaza, and look forward to seeing its practical implementation, which will require further enhancements to Kerem Shalom's capacity.

Government Departments: Correspondence

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides a right to request information, including public correspondence, e-mails and records or recordings of telephone calls, which may be held by public authorities subject to the FOIA. These include government departments and agencies listed in Schedule 1 to the FOIA, but not contractors operating on their behalf. Information may be withheld where exemptions within the FOIA apply, including where the disclosure of personal data would contravene the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The DPA also provides individuals with an additional right to request their own personal data, including where it is held by contractors working for public authorities. This right, which may also be subject to exemptions, applies to all data controllers within and outside the public sector.



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Health: Cancer

Question

Asked by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): On 20 December 2010, the department published The NHS Outcomes Framework 2011-12, which will measure the overall progress of the National Health Service in delivering better health outcomes for patients. The first NHS Outcomes Framework contains outcomes for cancer including "one-year and five-year survival rates" for colorectal, breast and lung cancers. In addition to these, the overarching indicator included in the framework on "mortality from causes considered amenable to healthcare" includes a number of other cancer types which will be monitored at a national level.

Whilst the NHS Outcomes Framework aims to cover a balanced set of outcome goals, it can never be comprehensive in terms of including specific outcomes for all diseases and conditions. However, Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer, published 12 January, sets out the Government's broader plans to improve outcomes for patients with all cancers, including those whose cancers are rare. Providing high quality decision aids and promoting early referral to secondary care will be central to our efforts to improve the diagnosis of rarer forms of cancer, as well as more common tumours. We will also work with organisations, which represent patients with rarer forms of cancer, to assess what more can be done to encourage referrals and earlier diagnosis of rarer cancers.

Health: NHS London

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I refer the noble Lord to my response of 27 January (Official Report, col. WA198).

Health: Vaccines

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Almost all vaccines, except seasonal influenza vaccine, are procured centrally because it provides a cost effective, robust arrangement that can take account of supply and demand, and allow the department to track where batches of vaccine have gone. General practitioners are responsible for purchasing seasonal influenza vaccine from suppliers.

A review, agreed last year before the current influenza situation, will look at procurement of the seasonal influenza vaccine. No decision has yet been made.

Higher Education: Overseas Students

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government's approach is based on minimising the risk of abuse and ensuring that the brightest and best international students study in the UK.

On 7 December, we published a public consultation, The Student Immigration System: A Consultation. One of the proposals on which we are inviting views is what changes we should make to the tier one post-study work route, as well as the timing of any changes and any transitional arrangements which may be necessary. We will announce our final decisions on the future shape of tier four in due course, following the end of the consultation on 31 January.

Those students in tier four of the points-based system will, as now, be able to work in the UK after graduation by switching into tier two, provided they meet the applicable requirements.

Homeless People

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government have taken decisive action to reduce the budget deficit. Local authorities will determine local spending plans for future years, taking account of local priorities and circumstances, the need to protect vulnerable people and the important role played by the voluntary sector in delivering local services. Provision of hostel beds plays an important role in tackling homelessness, as part of a broader

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range of homelessness services. Demand for hostel beds in different areas changes over time, and central government does not make forecasts of future provision.

This Government are committed to tackling homelessness. We have maintained the level of homelessness grant, and will invest £400 million over the next four years. We have established a cross-departmental ministerial working group to address the complex causes of homelessness.

The Spending Review has also secured £6.5 billion of investment in Supporting People over the next four years.

Housing Benefit

Questions

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My officials have been discussing the allocation of discretionary housing payments for 2011-12 with the local authority associations. The department will reach a conclusion on the allocation as soon as possible.

Asked by Lord German

Lord Freud: Discretionary housing payments good practice guidance for local authorities is published on the department's website. www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/dhpguide.pdf.

The guidance already includes a great deal of useful information for local authorities. We are working with stakeholders to expand on this guidance and to include additional material on, for example, managing budgets and supporting customers who need assistance with moving.

The guidance will be published in advance of April 2011.

International Criminal Court

Questions

Asked by Lord Ahmed



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As a state party to the International Criminal Court, the United Kingdom makes assessed contributions to the court's budget each year. The payments received by the court from the United Kingdom since it was established are:

2004- €10,713,177;

2005-€8,620,970;

2006-€9,909,578;

2007-€10,114,294;

2008-€7,310,027;

2009-€4,903,815; and

2010- €8,263,198

The amount due as a contribution to the 2011 budget has recently been set at €9,889,984. We do not maintain figures on other state parties' contributions to the court-some figures for 2010 are available in the Report of the Committee on Budget and Finance, which is available at http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/asp_docs/ASP9/ICC-ASP-9-5-ENG.pdf.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: We work closely with a variety of non-governmental organisations and civil society groups who are involved in work promoting international justice, including the work of the International Criminal Court. As an example, we provided funding of £4,300 in 2009 to pay for three journalists from the Democratic Republic of Congo to attend the opening of the trial of Thomas Lubanga in The Hague. A full breakdown of funding across government since 1998 could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: The European Union supports the work of the International Criminal Court as part of its policy towards the prevention of crimes of international concern and the ending of impunity for perpetrators of such crimes. Further information on the funding provided by the European Union in support of this policy is available at http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/human_rights/icc/index_en.htm.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: The EU/International Criminal Court (ICC) agreement on co-operation and assistance places a general obligation of co-operation between the two institutions, including a regular exchange of information of mutual interest. The emphasis of this agreement is the exchange of classified information. Separately, the United Kingdom has signed a number of bilateral agreements with the court which have established the level of co-operation and support that we provide to the court. This includes agreements on information sharing, sentence enforcement and witness protection. In all our dealings with the ICC, the United Kingdom's policy is to provide full political and practical support to the court as it undertakes its mandate to prosecute those alleged to be responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: None. But officials from our High Commission have had meetings with various civil society groups in Kenya to ensure they are well informed on the workings of the court, and have encouraged the Government of Kenya to stand by their obligations as a signatory to the Rome statute. We also made a voluntary contribution in 2010 of £200,000 to an International Criminal Court fund to support the relocation of witnesses in the Kenya investigation.

Israel

Questions

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is in regular contact with Baroness Ashton (European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and fully supports the EU stance that settlement building in east Jerusalem is illegal under international law and is an obstacle to peace.

As my honourable friend Alistair Burt said in his Statement of 9 January 2011 in response to reports that work had begun to enable creation of a new illegal settlement in occupied east Jerusalem:



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"The British Government reaffirms its strong, long-standing opposition to the creation of this new illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and condemns today's demolition in Sheikh Jerrah. The establishment and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.

We oppose provocative unilateral actions such as this, which hinder efforts to resume talks between the two parties leading to a two-state solution to this conflict, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states living side by side in peace and security. That is the way forward. This latest settlement activity does not help-on the contrary, it raises tensions unnecessarily".

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: As the noble Lord is aware, the British Government are strongly opposed to the creation of this new settlement in occupied east Jerusalem-as we are to all settlement activity-and condemns the demolition of the Shepherds Hotel in Sheikh Jerrah. We issued a statement to this effect on 9 January.

We have no plans at present to seek arbitration in the matter of ownership.

As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made clear when he saw Foreign Minister Lieberman on 24 January, we believe settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace.

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We understand that on 12 January 2011 at Dkeika (southern Hebron Hills) 13 structures, including nine residential and a classroom were demolished displacing 50 people including 30 children.

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



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Lloyds Banking Group

Questions

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's shareholdings in banks, including Lloyds Banking Group, are managed on a commercial and arm's-length basis by UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI). UKFI's objective is to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder, with due regard to the maintenance of financial stability, and to act in a way that promotes competition. The framework document agreed between HM Treasury and UKFI sets a requirement that UKFI will not intervene in the day-to-day management decisions of investee companies, and the companies continue to be managed by their own independent boards.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Sassoon: Lloyds Banking Group has conducted their own internal investigation into the claim that President al-Bashir holds accounts with the group, and is confident that the group does not hold any account for Mr al-Bashir or any individuals or entities associated with him. The Financial Services Authority has reviewed this report and has not raised any further concerns.

Local Government: Pay

Questions

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The salaries of local authority chief executives are for each local authority employer to determine in the light of local circumstances. The Secretary of State has called for the most senior local government officers in all councils to consider a voluntary reduction in pay and also suggested that no new council chief executive should be paid more than the Prime Minister.



31 Jan 2011 : Column WA234

Provisions in the Localism Bill will increase local accountability and transparency in the setting of pay for senior staff.

Asked by Lord Moonie

Baroness Hanham: The salaries of local authority chief executives are for each local authority employer to determine in the light of local circumstances. The Secretary of State has called for the most senior local government officers in all councils to consider a voluntary reduction in pay and also suggested that no new council chief executive should be paid more than the Prime Minister.

Provisions in the Localism Bill will increase local accountability and transparency in the setting of pay for senior staff.

Muslim Chaplains

Question

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government have noted this report, commissioned by the previous Administration. Chaplains play a significant role in their communities and this report makes a valuable contribution to understanding how Muslim chaplains might be supported in the future.

National Forest

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The National Forest Company, which is responsible for creating the National Forest, has been particularly successful in engaging local communities to help create a new forest. This project is still under way and we continue to learn lessons about this model.

The Government are committed to a range of policies that encourage woodland creation but we need a variety of management approaches and funding options to achieve a significant increase. For example, the Forestry Commission is leading the Woodland Carbon Task Force which is developing mechanisms to attract private finance to increase woodland creation. Also, the Forestry Commission recently announced the formation of the Forestry Regulation Task Force which will identify

31 Jan 2011 : Column WA235

the most appropriate mechanisms to ensure the effective and efficient regulation of the forest and woodland sector. This will help minimise regulatory burdens.

Together, these and other initiatives will support those who wish to create and sustainably manage forests and help to promote a more competitive forestry sector.

National Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As I noted in my Written Answer of 16 November 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 196), non-European Economic Area (EEA) workers are allowed a 52 week exclusion from national insurance contributions so as to keep temporary visiting workers, students and apprentices out of the UK social security scheme. As I noted at that time, no statistics are available of the number of non-EEA nationals sent to work in the United Kingdom by an overseas employer. I would also refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer from Earl Howe of 7 December 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 44) which sets out the conditions under which such workers may access the National Health Service.

The Government will consider the case for review in the light of the forthcoming report on tax relief from the Office for Tax Simplification.

NHS: Reform

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Yes. The Health and Social Care Bill published on 19 January 2011 was accompanied by a draft impact assessment which estimated that there will be a reduction of approximately 24,500 non-frontline staff.

This reflects the Government's commitment to reduce management costs by a third in real terms. However, the reforms are not expected to have a negative impact on the number of frontline clinical staff employed, and all savings achieved will be reinvested in patient care.



31 Jan 2011 : Column WA236

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Howe: The department published an impact assessment alongside the Health and Social Care Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on 19 January. This estimates that the reforms will have a one-off cost of approximately £1.4 billion, which will be more than recouped by the end of 2012-13 through reduced spending on administration. We estimate that from 2014-15, the reforms will save £1.7 billion of administration costs each and every year.

NHS: Waiting Times

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The National Health Service reforms will free the NHS from bureaucracy and targets that have no clinical justification. Doctors will be freed to focus on providing quality patient care and the NHS will be accountable to the patients and public it serves. Patients will also continue to be entitled to the maximum waiting times rights under the NHS Constitution.

As set out in the NHS Operating Framework for 2011-12, commissioners of NHS services should ensure that waiting times performance does not deteriorate and where possible improves during 2011-12. Further improvements in waiting times will be delivered by providing information on waiting times to patients, to drive choice and competition in the NHS.

Ofsted

Question

Asked by Lord Bowness

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, has written to the noble Lord and a copy of her reply has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.



31 Jan 2011 : Column WA237

Optical Fibres

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Information relating to internal discussions and advice is not normally disclosed.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Hanham: Telecom companies are liable for non-domestic rates in respect of any rateable property, including fibre optic cable networks, which they occupy or, if the property is empty, own. We do not collect information from local authorities on how much non-domestic rates revenue has been collected in respect of telecom companies.

Papua New Guinea

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Papua New Guinea has constitutional protection for human rights and has ratified a range of related UN Conventions, but it does not have a national human rights institution. We agree with the assessment by the United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that despite its legal framework of protection there remain many human rights challenges. A low awareness of human rights results in only those with sufficient resources being able to access the justice system. Insufficient human and financial resources mean that the police and judicial systems are not always in a position to enforce the rule of law. The police lack the capacity to investigate serious crimes, especially those relating to domestic violence, which is of particular concern. Our High Commission provides financial assistance to the Meri Seif Pies, a women's organisation that provides domestic abuse victims with a safe haven.

In May, Papua New Guinea will undergo a Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council. This process allows for a review of the human rights records of Papua New Guinea and provides the opportunity for Papua New Guinea to declare what actions it has taken to fulfil its human rights obligations. The UK will respond to the reports submitted and provide recommendations to the national Government.



31 Jan 2011 : Column WA238

Police: MoD Police

Question

Asked by Baroness Harris of Richmond

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The ability of Home Office Police Forces to support the Ministry of Defence establishments in rural areas is an issue that will be taken into account in considering any changes to the department's future requirement for the Ministry of Defence Police.

Royal Parks

Questions

Asked by Lord Elton

Baroness Rawlings: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published a Statement of Intent on 18 January. This set out the proposed changes of responsibility in some detail including the current expectation of timing. It was made as a Ministerial Written Statement in both Houses (Official Report, col. WS7-11). It is also published on the DCMS website at: www.culture.gov.uk/publications/7704.aspx. Primary legislation is required for the transfer (we aim to legislate at the earliest opportunity) and, of course, Parliament will have a full opportunity to scrutinise our proposals for transferring powers to the Mayor during that process. We have no plans for further formal debate on the framework document-it will have to be consistent with the primary legislation in any case, since it must reflect the will of Parliament-but its details, and the way it is applied, will be subject to

31 Jan 2011 : Column WA239

scrutiny both through the newly reformed Board of the Royal Parks Agency, and the Mayor will be democratically accountable to both the London Assembly and to the London electorate in the normal way as well.

Schools: GCSEs

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The quoted figure of one in six pupils achieving A*-C grades GCSE in English, mathematics and science is incorrect. Table 9 of the Statistical First Release, published on the 12 January (www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000985/index.shtml) shows that 48 per cent of pupils at the end of key stage 4 achieved A*-C passes in English, mathematics and at least one science. In addition, 40 per cent of pupils achieved the English, mathematics and science components of the new English Baccalaureate measure, where two A*-C passes in science are required.

However, the figures still clearly show that much more needs to be done to improve attainment in these strategically important subjects. The schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, reflects the emphasis the Government place on school improvement, including core teaching skills such as reading, mathematics and science education. Good teaching is fundamental to raising standards.

St Helena

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Baroness Verma: The HeathLink3 contract is between the St Helena Government and Northern Island Co-operation Overseas (NICO). The contract includes provision for medical support to Tristan da Cunha, a dependency of St Helena. Tristan da Cunha does not have a separate contract for medical services.

Acting on behalf of the St Helena Government, DfID tendered the HealthLink3 project in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in 2008. The following criteria were used to evaluate the bids before the contract was awarded to NICO: quality of personnel, including ongoing support and supervision; methodology; adherence to the Terms of Reference; experience of similar work and track record; and a commercial assessment, including value for money (cost, fees, fee rates, and number of days offered).

Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government cannot comment on the tax affairs of any taxpayer, but it does not condone the use of violence or vandalism in these circumstances.

Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by Baroness Valentine

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon):

Top Statutory Income Tax rate (as % of gross income)Employee social security Contributions at top of income tax threshold (as % of gross income)Combined
200020102000201020002010

Canada

46.3%

45.6%

0%

0%

46.3%

45.6%

France

58.3%

47.8%

11%

11%

69.6%

59.0%

Germany

53.8%

47.5%

0%

0%

53.8%

47.5%

Italy

45.9%

43.8%

9.2%

10.5%

55.1%

54.3%

Japan

50%

50%

0.4%

0.4%

50.4%

50.4%

UK

40%

50%

0%

1%

40.0%

51.0%

USA

45.6%

41%

1.5%

1.5%

47.1%

42.5%



31 Jan 2011 : Column WA241

Top marginal tax and social security rates are not necessarily representative of the total burden of taxation on earnings, which depend on the income thresholds at which these rates apply as well as the burden of employer social security contributions.

Tax wedge data offer a more comprehensive measure of the total burden of taxation on earnings, as they account for both of these considerations. G7 tax wedge data for high income individuals are not immediately available for 2000 and 2010. However, a limited range of data is published by the OECD in its annual Taxing Wages document (latest edition published May 2010-http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/19/13/45118806.pdf).

As of April 2010, the top rate of income tax in the UK is 50 per cent. This rate was introduced by the previous Government, and will remain in place for the time being. However, we believe that high marginal tax rates are not good for the UK and we will continue to look at the yields from different taxes, including the 50 per cent rate, to ensure that they remain an efficient and effective way of raising revenue.

Trees

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Trees for Cities has received tree planting grants from the London Tree and Woodland Grant

31 Jan 2011 : Column WA242

Scheme community grant and from the Greater London Authority Mayor's Street Trees fund. Both these grant schemes are managed by the Forestry Commission in London.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Henley: The sapling survival rates came from the London Tree and Woodland Grants Scheme and the Greater London Authority's Street Trees scheme, managed by the Forestry Commission in London, combined with the experience of the Community Forests in Greater Manchester and Greater Liverpool.

We are not aware of other agencies quoting a 25 per cent vandalism rate. Vandalism data may be held by individual local authorities and other civil society groups but these have not been aggregated nationally due to cost, and the difficulty of obtaining consistent and comprehensive responses over a significant time period.

The method used for staking a tree should be based on local conditions and circumstances so we are not able to recommend one method over another.

UK Border Agency

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The former Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency, Lin Homer, updated the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) on 1 November 2010. The Case Resolution Directorate (CRD) had concluded 334,500 cases up to the end of September 2010.

CRD is nearing the end of its programme to review the backlog of unresolved asylum cases, and remains on track to complete the legacy programme by summer 2011.

A further progress update on the conclusion of these cases will be provided to the HASC in early spring.



31 Jan 2011 : Column WA243

UK Trade and Investment

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint):

Efficacy of UKTI

As part of the Government's Business Support Simplification Programme (BSSP) an internal government review was carried out of UKTI's service and product offers, which concluded that the services are effective in meeting a core need of UK business. UKTI has also been subject to a number of external assessments. In January 2010, the Business Innovation and Skills Committee (BISCOMM) inspected what needed to be done by Government to sustain and increase Britain's export strengths. The report (HC 266 I/II) described UKTI as a successful agency and a highly adept organisation whose services are valued by businesses. It praised UKTI's dedicated and professional staff. In October 2010, following a peer review by global international trade promotion organisations' UKTI won the award for best trade promotion organisation from a developed country, at the Trade Promotion

31 Jan 2011 : Column WA244

Organisation (TPO) Network Awards. The biennial awards recognise institutional excellence among national export promotion agencies.

Assessment of £19:£1

The National Audit Office has reviewed UKTI's performance system-performance and impact monitoring system (PIMS)-which is used to calculate UKTI's value for money statement "for every £1 of taxpayers' money spent our customers tell us that this generates £19 of additional profit for business", in the context of its regular annual audits of methodologies used to report against spending review targets and value for money statements, and has consistently given UKTI its highest assessment, fit for purpose, for all measures and statements reported through PIMS. In April 2009, the National Audit Office published a report (HC 297 2008-2009) that carried out an in-depth review of the value for money of UKTI trade services and found that UK Trade and Investment has in place a robust system of assessing delivery and has put in place extensive arrangements to obtain regular and systematic feedback on the quality of its services.

Measurement of £19:£1

UKTI commissions independent research into the quality and satisfaction of its services, into any benefits companies' business may have experienced, including both qualitative benefits, such as access to contacts not otherwise available or improvements to their overseas marketing strategy, and into any financial benefits arising. A detailed technical note of how this is measured is published in UKTI's departmental resource accounts reports (HC 3) pages 71-76 and can be found at: www.ukti.gov.uk/uktihome/aboutukti/ourperformance/officialreports/depa rtmentalreportresourceaccounts.html.


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