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1 Mar 2011 : Column WA287



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA287

Written Answers

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The report and additional documents taken together with the extensive set of documentation already in the public domain provide as full and public an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the decision by the Scottish Government to release Mr Megrahi as possible. I refer the noble Lord to paragraphs 39, 40 and 44 of the Cabinet Secretary's report which make clear the reasons why some information is not being released.

Africa: Post-election Violence

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We note that the African Union passed a resolution at its summit in January calling for a deferral, under Article 16 of the Rome Statute, of the ICC's investigation into the post-election violence that took place in Kenya in 2007-08. A deferral under Article 16 can be adopted only in exceptional circumstances, by a resolution of the United Nations Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the charter of the United Nations on the basis of a threat to international peace and security. We see no basis at this time for any proceedings in the Security Council under Article 16.

Airports: Birmingham

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath



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Earl Attlee: We recognise the vital contribution that regional airports make to local economies. It is our intention to develop an aviation policy framework that seeks to create the right conditions for regional airports to flourish. Plans for the expansion of Birmingham Airport are a matter for the airport operator.

This Government have not therefore made any assessment of the potential benefits of proposed expansion of Birmingham Airport for the West Midlands economy.

Algeria

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Algerian authorities' stated intention to remove the state of emergency legislation, in place since the difficult period of the 1990s, is a positive move. We support efforts to encourage freedom of expression and association and will continue to monitor efforts by the Government of Algeria in this.

Animal Experimentation

Question

Asked by Lord Wills

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government recognise that many people have a particular concern about the use of non-human primates. Under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 they, together with some other species, are given special protection and can be used only where animals of no other species are suitable.

Research using non-human primates is a small but currently vital part of work to protect and improve human lives. For instance, the United Kingdom uses small numbers of non-human primates for the development and testing of vaccines against some of the world's largest killers such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB, and the potential future treatment of degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The development of new drugs and medical and veterinary technologies is still dependent on the information and insights derived from the well designed, properly conducted and carefully regulated use of animals (including non-human primates) for testing and research.

Some advocate a "zero option" strategy, where the goal is to stop using non-human primates altogether as fast as possible. The majority of scientific opinion

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believes that it will take several decades to make the advances needed to overcome all need for non-human primates.

Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

Question

Asked by Lord Wills

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): We are planning to include a review of Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 in due course as part of a public consultation on the transposition of European Directive 210/63/EU on the protection of animals used in scientific research.

Armed Forces: Allowances

Question

Asked by Lord Craig of Radley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): No. The work to review and change the Armed Forces allowances package was, correctly, departmentally led and the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) was not consulted prior to the announcement.

The vast majority of the allowances that were changed (including continuity of education allowance) are not reviewed by the AFPRB, but it does have responsibility to recommend rates in the cases of recruitment and retention allowance (London), commitment bonuses, and the reserve bands of specialist pay. As part of the 2011-12 pay review round we will be providing written evidence to the AFPRB about the new rates and our justification for them, to inform future recommendations. The AFPRB retains a fundamental independent role in ensuring that the remuneration package of service personnel is sufficient to recruit and retain the right people.

Armed Forces: Women

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Afghan cultural awareness training is provided to all UK personnel deploying to Afghanistan, which includes cultural differences when interacting with Afghan women. In addition, four female soldiers in Afghanistan are currently assigned to work in female engagement teams, which focus on interaction with the local Afghan female population, fostering relationships and gaining their trust and support.

Arms Trade Treaty

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is committed to securing a robust and effective arms trade treaty and to continuing to play a lead role in the UN process. The UK regularly discusses an arms trade treaty both with supportive states and those that still have concerns about the treaty. It would not be appropriate for me to supply further details of these discussions due to their confidential nature and the early stage of the negotiations.

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is committed to securing a robust and effective arms trade treaty and to continuing to play a lead role in the UN process. The UK regularly discusses an arms trade treaty both with supportive states and those that still have concerns about the treaty. It would not be appropriate for me to supply further details of these discussions due to their confidential nature and the early stage of the negotiations.

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is committed to securing a robust and effective arms trade treaty and to continuing to play a lead role in the UN process. Negotiations are ongoing in the run up to the critical UN negotiating conference in 2012. It is therefore not appropriate for me to speculate about the possible scope, parameters or implementation and application of an arms trade treaty at this time. We maintain a dialogue with the parliamentary committees on arms export controls on the arms trade treaty, most recently when my honourable friend Alistair Burt gave oral evidence to the committees on 24 January 2011.



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Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is committed to securing a robust and effective arms trade treaty and to continuing to play a lead role in the UN process. Negotiations are ongoing in the run up to the critical UN negotiating conference in 2012. It is therefore not appropriate for me to speculate about the possible scope, parameters or implementation and application of an arms trade treaty at this time. We maintain a dialogue with the parliamentary committees on arms export controls on the arms trade treaty, most recently when my honourable friend Alistair Burt gave oral evidence to the committees on 24 January 2011.

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is committed to securing a robust and effective arms trade treaty and to continuing to play a lead role in the UN process. Negotiations are ongoing in the run up to the critical UN negotiating conference in 2012. It is therefore not appropriate for me to speculate about the possible scope, parameters or implementation and application of an arms trade treaty at this time. We maintain a dialogue with the parliamentary committees on arms export controls on the arms trade treaty, most recently when my honourable friend Alistair Burt gave oral evidence to the committees on 24 January 2011.

Azerbaijan

Question

Asked by Lord German

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are deeply aware of the incidents that took place during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including the many thousands of people displaced from their homes and the terrible human cost to both sides. We did not send a letter of commiseration to the Government of Azerbaijan. We extend our deepest sympathies to all the families of the victims and give our assurance that their suffering will not be forgotten. We call on all sides to redouble their efforts to reach a negotiated settlement and ensure such events are not repeated in the future.



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Bahrain

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government receive regular reports on the human rights situation in Bahrain, including the Amnesty International report of 11 February 2011. We continue to make representations at the highest level with the Government of Bahrain. During my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary's visit to Bahrain on 10 February 2011, he raised the importance of transparency with the Foreign Minister. We will continue to monitor the situation, and to underline the importance of investigating fully and transparently allegations of abuse of detainees.

Asked by Lord Avebury

Lord Howell of Guildford: During a visit to Bahrain on 10 February 2011 my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary met the Bahraini Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, and raised Jaffar Al Hasabi's complaint that he had been abused in detention facilities. The Foreign Minister undertook to investigate this matter. We are closely monitoring the situation and will follow this up with the Minister.

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Howell of Guildford: We have stressed the need for the Government of Bahrain to respect their citizens' right to freedom of expression. We continue to stress to the Government of Bahrain the importance of following due process in the trial of Dr Al Singace, and the other 24 accused of terrorism offences, currently before the Bahraini courts. And we continue to press the Government of Bahrain to investigate fully and

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transparently allegations of abuse of detainees. Our embassy in Bahrain is closely monitoring the proceedings, and outcome, of the trial.

Bat Khurts

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Mr Khurts was arrested at Heathrow Airport on 17 September 2010 under the terms of a European Arrest Warrant issued by a German court, on charges of kidnap and false imprisonment. Mr Khurts was neither invited to the UK, nor granted any appointments with Ministers or officials.

BBC: World Service

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Under the broadcasting agreement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service, the BBC World Service has managerial integrity and independence, except in the case of opening or closing a language service.

Therefore, for those language services which will continue, it is for the BBC World Service to decide how it will allocate the funds within its budget.

However, given the current circumstances, we stay in close contact with the BBC World Service on the question of the Arabic service. We recognise the valuable work that the Arabic service has done in covering the recent events, and are in discussion with the BBC World Service about whether there are also ways the service in Arabic can be supported over the next few months.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



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Lord Howell of Guildford: Under the broadcasting agreement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service, the BBC World Service has managerial integrity and independence, except in the case of opening or closing a language service.

This decision was therefore made by the BBC World Service.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: Under the broadcasting agreement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service, the BBC World Service has managerial integrity and independence, except in the case of opening or closing a language service.

This decision was therefore made by the BBC World Service.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: The reduction of these radio services are platform changes rather than language service closures. As such, they fall under the managerial integrity and independence of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service, as set out in the broadcasting agreement between the BBC World Service and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In all the cases mentioned, the BBC World Service will continue to reach its audiences through its online services and, where applicable, through mobile and television programmes.

Channel Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Revenue and Customs keeps live data relating to exports and imports only for a period of three calendar years. The information for the years 2008-10 is set out below:

UK exports to the Channel Islands

2008-£280,098,580.01



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2009-£270,143,341.25

2010-£215,514,255.93

UK imports from the Channel Islands

2008-£323,184,555.35

2009-£321,776,148.50

2010-£349,558,850.92

Goods exported from and imported into the UK must be declared using one of the commodity codes used to identify goods for import and export purposes listed in the 97 chapters of the UK's integrated tariff.

The main categories of goods exported and imported to/from the Channel Islands during the period 2008-10 are as follows:

UK exports to the Channel Islands

2008

Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation (Chapter 27)-£99,477,110.99

Ships, boats and floating structures (Chapter 89)-£69,127,125.06

Beverages, spirits and vinegar (Chapter 22)- £30,849,724.23

Works of art, collectors' pieces and antiques (Chapter 97)-£22,688,330,37

2009

Ships, boats and floating structures (Chapter 89)-£91,316,804.83

Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation (Chapter 27)-£51,981,925.38

Beverages, spirits and vinegar (Chapter 22)- £32,108,675.09

Works of art, collectors' pieces and antiques (Chapter 97)-£13,367,589.04

2010

Ships, boats and floating structures (Chapter 89)-£50,856,185.37

Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation (Chapter 27)-£35,133,005.19

Beverages, spirits and vinegar (Chapter 22)- £33,136,828.29

Works of art, collectors' pieces and antiques (Chapter 97)-£15,856,092.72

UK imports from the Channel Islands

2008

Optical, photographic etc (Chapter 90)- £61,309,367.04

Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock (Chapter 87)-£50,894,186.11

Ships, boats and floating structures (Chapter 89)-£31,102,148.01

Nickel and articles thereof (Chapter 75 of the UK Tariff)-£30,234,380.45

Optical, photographic etc (Chapter 90)- £69,181,877.46

Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock (Chapter 87)-£57,702,648.76



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Aircraft, spacecraft and parts thereof (Chapter 88)-£46,003,597.96

Electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof (Chapter 85)-£29,910,976.45

2010

Optical, photographic etc (Chapter 90 of the UK Tariff)-£77,017,831.31

Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling stock (Chapter 87)-£61,530,741.77

Electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof (Chapter 85)-£30,914,653.82

Aircraft, spacecraft and parts thereof (Chapter 88)-£28,860,233.42

Charities: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Baroness Warsi: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Charity Commission for England and Wales. I have asked the commission to reply.

Letter from Sam Younger dated February 2011

As the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, I have been asked to respond to your written Parliamentary Question: To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of figures published in The Times on 8 February stating that charities receive more money from public funds than from voluntary contributions, at what stage charities receiving public funds are no longer considered charities by the Charity Commission. [HL7005].

Charities receive their income from a wide variety of sources, including public funds, but the source of their funding is not what determines their charitable status. The Charity Commission recognises a charity as an independent organisation that is established exclusively for charitable purposes and for the public benefit, as defined in law, in particular the Charities Act 2006.

I hope this information is helpful.

China

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): During his recent meeting in January with Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary expressed his concern about Chen's treatment. My honourable friend Jeremy Browne, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister with responsibility for the Far East, also raised the case with the head of the Chinese delegation to the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue on 13 January 2011.

We remain concerned about the treatment of Chen Guangcheng and his family, whose detention appears to violate Chinese laws. We continue to monitor his situation and are working with EU partners to maintain the profile of his case.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department will continue to use the composite term chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) for this condition, or spectrum of disease, as suggested by the Chief Medical Officer in his 2002 report. We recognise the condition as neurological in nature.

Circuses: Animals

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): I understand that the issue of the use of wild animals in circuses is very important to the public-there were

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over 13,000 responses to the consultation held last year. I have held meetings with representatives of welfare groups and the circus industry and intend to make a decision before too long.

Consumer Protection

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government committed in the coalition agreement to introduce stronger consumer protections including measures to end unfair bank and financial transaction charges. We have been considering how best to take forward this commitment and believe that it should be done in the context of a wider strategic approach to strengthening and streamlining consumer protections and advocacy. This issue is therefore being addressed as part of our Consumer Credit and Personal Insolvency Review.

The call for evidence on this review has now closed. We have received a considerable number of responses which we are now considering. If the evidence comes out in favour of action, we will not hesitate to act to protect the interests of consumers. We will come forward with specific proposals in spring 2011.

Criminal Justice: Compensation

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As I explained in my Answer of 27 January (Official Report, col. WA186), it is the policy of the Ministry of Justice not to comment on individual applications for compensation unless the applicant has already put the matter into the public domain. The department's policy has been endorsed by the Information Commissioner. A copy of a decision by the Information Commissioner relating to a request for disclosure of similar information under the Freedom of Information Act has previously been placed in the library.

For that reason, in the cases of John and Ronnie Actie, Michelle and Lisa Taylor and Ivan Fergus I can neither confirm nor deny whether an application for compensation was received.

In the case of Colin Stagg I am aware that he made the fact of his award of compensation under the now abolished discretionary compensation scheme known to the media through a number of interviews. The discretionary compensation scheme was abolished for new applications on 19 April 2006 by the then Home Secretary.

Cyclists: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The unwelcome increase in pedal cyclist casualties must be set in the context of increasing levels of cycling-up 12 per cent between 2005 and 2009-which is to be welcomed.

There are a number of current initiatives to improve cycle safety. These include promoting bikeability cycle training and the Highway Code, and specifically, the use of protective equipment such as high visibility clothing; as well as new measures on lorry mirrors to improve the visibility of cyclists and pedestrians. There are a range of measures which local authorities can take on the design of safer road infrastructure, including effective cycle-specific measures such as cycle routes and better traffic management. These will depend on local decisions and need to reflect local priorities. The new Local Sustainable Transport Fund of £560 million over the next four years will be available to support such measures. All this is against a background of encouraging more people to cycle while minimising the risks of cycling. The Government's broader plans to improve road safety will be set out in a strategic framework to be published by this April.



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Cyprus

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have not made any such considerations. The bicommunal concept was agreed within the 12 February 1977 high level agreement between the then leaders of the two communities under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. As I said on 13 January 2011, we are committed to supporting the UN's efforts to achieve a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as defined by the relevant Security Council resolutions. We want to see a settlement agreed and peacefully implemented by Cypriots for Cypriots to deliver a stable, prosperous and united Cyprus, operating as a valued partner within the EU.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not made any such considerations. The bicommunal concept was agreed within the 12 February 1977 high level agreement between the then leaders of the two communities under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. As I said on 13 January 2011, we are committed to supporting the UN's efforts to achieve a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as defined by the relevant Security Council resolutions. We want to see a settlement agreed and peacefully implemented by Cypriots for Cypriots to deliver a stable, prosperous and united Cyprus, operating as a valued partner within the EU.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not made any such considerations. The bicommunal concept was agreed within the 12 February 1977 high level agreement between the then leaders of the two communities under the auspices of the UN Secretary

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General. As I said on 13 January 2011, we are committed to supporting the UN's efforts to achieve a settlement based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as defined by the relevant Security Council resolutions. We want to see a settlement agreed and peacefully implemented by Cypriots for Cypriots to deliver a stable, prosperous and united Cyprus, operating as a valued partner within the EU.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UN Mapping Report contains a number of important recommendations. It highlights the need to tackle impunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in a comprehensive manner to protect further generations from suffering. The Government of DRC have expressed a desire to take forward the findings of this report through the formation of a mixed chamber. They are currently working on draft legislation and we look forward to following up with them on their proposals. The UN Security Council is not due to discuss the mapping report.

Egypt

Questions

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have received letters and phone calls from members of the public and international human rights organisations, who have raised concerns about the ongoing political unrest in Egypt, specifically incidents of deadly violence and other human rights issues, such as restrictions on freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest in Egypt. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have also spoken to the Egyptian authorities, the US Administration, European partners and Governments in the region.

As the Foreign Secretary said in his Statement of 3 February 2011, we deplore the violence in Egypt and have called on the authorities to avoid repression. We also urged the Egyptian Government urgently to lift restrictions on internet and mobile phone services, which only fuelled the anger of demonstrators. As the Prime Minister made clear in his Statement to Parliament

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on 7 February 2011, it is vital that the Egyptian authorities take bold and credible steps to show that the transition to a broad-based and democratic Government is irreversible and real.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: We support a peaceful transition and political reform that meets the aspirations of the Egyptian people. This requires constitutional changes to open the way for free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections, with broad lists of candidates, conducted under judicial supervision and international monitors.

As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said on 11 February 2011 following the resignation of President Mubarak, this is a precious moment of opportunity to establish a Government who can put in place the building blocks of a truly open, free and democratic society. Those who now run Egypt have a duty to reflect the wishes of the Egyptian people and there must be a move to civilian and democratic rule as part of this transition. On 14 February 2011 my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary called for a clear timetable for free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections and a genuinely inclusive dialogue about the country's future.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We were deeply concerned at reports of journalists being harassed and detained during the recent political unrest in Egypt. This is unacceptable and damages Egypt's credibility. We have expressed our strong concerns both publicly and privately with the Egyptian authorities. For example, on 6 February 2011, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised this issue with Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit who assured him that many of those who had been detained had been released.

We have welcomed the Egyptian Government's commitment to release all detained protestors, not to arrest anyone for expressing ideas and opinions and to stop arresting and harassing journalists, foreigners and members of the opposition. It is important that the Egyptian authorities continue to honour these commitments and that they are implemented immediately.

Asked by Lord Hylton



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Lord Howell of Guildford: Neither the Foreign and Commonwealth Office nor our embassy in Cairo has received a request from Mr Tait for consular assistance. In order to request compensation, Mr Tait would need to approach the Egyptian authorities directly.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: We have expressed our strong concerns about the mistreatment of protesters, journalists and human rights defenders, to the Egyptian authorities. On 6 February 2011, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised reports of mistreatment with Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who agreed that this was unacceptable. He assured the Foreign Secretary that many of those who had been detained had been released. On 7 February 2011, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister spoke to the then-Vice President of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, and called for the release of all non-activists from prison. The then-Vice President gave his assurances that nobody was now in detention.

We continue to urge the Egyptian authorities to replace the state of emergency with anti-terrorism legislation that is compliant with international standards on human rights and fundamental freedoms. We also encourage Egypt to ratify the optional protocol on the Convention Against Torture and to extend an invitation to the UN special rapporteur on torture.

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government cannot comment on individual possible asset freezing cases for well established operational reasons.

The Government have received a request from the Egyptian Government to freeze the assets of several former Egyptian officials. We are, of course, co-operating with this request, continuing to work with EU and international partners as we did in the case of Tunisia. If there is any evidence of illegality or misuse of state assets we will take firm and prompt action, and request that the Crown dependencies do the same.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: We have received no further reports of problems with security at the Egyptian Museum since the Egyptian army took over responsibility for guarding it and its contents on 28 January 2011.

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We understand that a number of priceless artefacts were stolen on or before that date and investigations into their theft are now underway.

We understand that the Egyptian Museum has recently reopened for visitors.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Howell of Guildford: We can confirm that the Egyptian authorities have provided us and other countries with a list of names in relation to freezing the assets of several members of the former regime. However, it is our policy not to disclose the names of such people to avoid assets being dissipated. If evidence of illegality or misuse of state assets is shown to exist and provided to us we will take firm and prompt action.

The UK's Crown dependencies and overseas territories are committed to meeting international standards and playing a responsible role in international financial markets. We will of course encourage these territories to take action in response to any such Egyptian requests.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health have not had any meetings for which the specific topic of discussion for the meeting was noted as embryo research, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, or stem cell research.

A search of the notes of meetings between Ministers in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health does not record any discussion of those specific topics, although they note broader discussions about regulation and research, including the Academy of Medical Sciences review on "A new pathway for the regulation and governance of health research".

As previously stated, Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health speak regularly about a range of public health issues, including informal discussions of which no note may be taken.



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Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Applications for membership of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority are welcomed from candidates of all beliefs. However, all potential members must be prepared to accept the fundamental principles behind the Authority's existence.

Members also need to recognise the principles contained in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, and associated regulations.

EU: Education Materials

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have shared our Written Answer to the noble Lord of 7 February 2011 (Official Report, cols. WA 15-16) with the European Commission Permanent Representation in the United Kingdom, and noted in addition our view that they should reconsider the future publication of the diaries in the current economic climate.

EU: Israel Association Agreement

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK has regular discussions with it's EU partners on a number of issues related to the Middle East peace process (MEPP) including the European Union Israel Association Agreement.

The EU has made clear that any upgrade of this agreement must be linked to progress on the MEPP. We continue to support this view and to underline this point in discussions with EU partners.



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EU: Official Visits

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We understand that a visit by some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Uruguay has been planned for May, and that details are not yet confirmed. We believe that EU institutions should think very carefully about all expenditure in line with good practice and with regard to the interests of taxpayers who finance their spending.

Falkland Islands: Landmines

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Four minefields at Goose Green, Fox Bay, Sapper Hill and Surf Bay were cleared during the 2009-10 pilot project. A total of 1,246 mines were cleared (678 anti-personnel and 568 anti-vehicle).

A further pilot project is due to start in late 2011, seeking to release land on Stanley Common.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): At the end of the conflict in 1982, Argentine forces gave all minefield records available to them to the UK. They also provided essential information on the type and locations of mines and booby traps during initial mine-clearing by British forces. In 2001 the UK and Argentine Governments agreed to produce a joint feasibility study on Falkland Islands mine clearance. This study was carried out by Cranfield University and published in 2007, and aided the demining project undertaken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office last year.

Finance: Retail Distribution Review

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government have no general power to regulate the prices an enterprise charges for its products. Enterprises must be free to take their own decisions about pricing based on their individual business needs. Ensuring there is effective competition and choice within relevant markets is the best way to encourage enterprises to offer the best quality and range of products and services at the most competitive prices as well as driving business competitiveness, innovation, efficiency and productivity. The UK's independent competition authorities are responsible for promoting effective competition in markets and enforcing competition law; for example, they have power to take action where there is collusion between firms or to address abuse of a dominant market position.

Forestry Commission

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The provisions of Chapter 4 of Part 4 of the Localism Bill would apply to a piece of Forestry Commission land if it were listed as an asset of community value by a local authority. The decision to end the consultation on the future of the public forest estate does not affect the proposed powers for a community to nominate parts of the public forest estate to be listed as an asset of community value.

Under Chapter 4 of Part 4 of the Localism Bill, land may be included on a local authority's list of assets of community value in response to a community nomination if it:

is in the authority's area, andis of community value.

We are currently consulting on how land of community value will be defined in regulations and what should be excluded from this definition.



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Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer my noble friend to my response of 25 January 2011 (Official Report, col. WA138-39).

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We do not make assessments of every event that occurs in Gaza and have not done so in this case. However, the UK is concerned in general about reports such as this detailing Israeli military actions in the Gaza strip. Whilst we understand Israel's security concerns-and condemn unequivocally the actions of those militant groups who target rockets at civilian populations in Israel-Israel is bound by international law in the same way as other countries. We both expect and encourage Israel to adhere to its obligations.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware of reports that Hamas has sought to control the activities of militant groups in Gaza. However, we are also aware of reports that Hamas continues to acquire and test a variety of weapons. We have long made it clear that the arming and funding of Hamas, and other Palestinian rejectionist groups, is unacceptable. We condemn the firing of rockets against civilian targets in Israel, whether by Hamas or other extremist groups. What is important is that all sides take every available measure to respect the ceasefire that has endured since the end of Operation Caste Lead-a resumption of hostilities is in no one's interests.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised these issues with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visited Israel in November 2010. I discussed Gaza at length with General Dangot, the Israeli Co-ordinator for Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT), when I visited the region on 16-19 January 2011.



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA309

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We do not hold statistics on supplies of medicine to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. We received information from the World Health Organisation in October 2010 that an average of 80 to 100 items of 480 essential drugs were out of stock at any one time. The situation may have since changed. We do not provide any drugs to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

We have long been clear on the need for Israel to allow access to Gaza for humanitarian relief, including essential medical supplies. We will continue to press these points.

Ghilad Shalit

Question

Asked by Lord Alderdice

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer my noble friend to the response I gave my noble friend Lady Tonge on 25 January 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 138-39).

Government Departments: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Shipley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Each year the independent Senior Salaries Review Body makes recommendations to the Prime Minister on SCS pay which cover the pay bands, increases to base salary and variable pay in light of economic evidence and movements in the private and wider public sector markets for senior executives. Delivery of in-year performance against objectives is rewarded through non-consolidated variable

1 Mar 2011 : Column WA310

pay. During the current financial year the total cost of performance related payments paid by DCLG to senior civil servants earning over £58.000 was £532,037. The total cost of performance related payments paid to senior civil servants in the three previous years were £686,000 (in 2007-08), £856,392 (in 2008-09) and £751,150 (in 2009-10).

For the current year, individual salary information for senior civil servants in pay bands 2-4 is published on the department's website. The level of disclosure for senior civil servants is to be reviewed in April 2011.

The consultation on the draft Code of Recommended Practice for local authorities on data transparency ends in March 2011. The Department for Communities and Local Government is at the forefront of the transparency agenda, believing that greater freedoms, autonomy and funding flexibility for local councils should be accompanied by greater local accountability.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Baroness Warsi: The government adviser for big society, Lord Wei, has been working on an unpaid basis since 18 May 2010, advising the Government on all aspects of taking forward the big society and driving implementation across government. He is supported by an office within the Cabinet Office. The costs of employing these staff and related IT, travel and subsistence for this period are around £92 000.

Government: Ministerial Visits

Question

Asked by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There have been two visits by Secretaries of State to Saudi Arabia since May 2010. These were by the Secretary of State for Defence, the right honourable Dr Liam Fox on 24-26 September 2010, and the Secretary of State for International Development, the right honourable Andrew Mitchell on 24 and 25 October 2010.

Health: Herbal Practitioners

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Currently practitioners of herbal medicine are not subject to statutory professional regulation.

On 16 February 2011 the Secretary of State issued a Written Ministerial Statement in Parliament, announcing his intention to establish a statutory register of persons authorised to dispense unlicensed herbal medicines.

Health: Vaccines

Question

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): None of the trivalent seasonal influenza vaccines available for use in the 2010-11 influenza season contains thiomersal as an added preservative. However, Fluvirin contains traces of thiomersal that are left over from the manufacturing process.

Pandemrix, which protects against the H1N1 influenza strain, contains a small amount of thiomersal.

There is no evidence to suggest that exposure to the small levels of thiomersal contained in these influenza vaccines carries any risks to adults or children.

Higher Education: Overseas Students

Question

Asked by Lord King of West Bromwich

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The department does not collect information specifically on the number of foreign students who sleep on the street. Information on rough sleeping in England has been placed in the Library of the House and is available on the DCLG website: http://www.communities. gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/rough sleepingautumn2010 and http://www.communities.gov. uk/documents/statistics/xls/1845849.xls. A new approach to evaluating rough-sleeping levels was introduced in September 2010.

In many areas homelessness charities have outreach teams who help people who sleep rough and are able to offer advice on accommodation and access to services. Embassies may also have a role in helping destitute foreign students.

All areas across England now provide counts or robust estimates, providing a clearer investment in homelessness grant has been maintained, with £400 million

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being made available to local authorities and the voluntary sector over the next four years. A cross-departmental ministerial working group on homelessness has been set up to address the complex causes of homelessness.

Independent Monitoring Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) has played a crucial part in supporting and enabling the historic changes that we have seen in Northern Ireland over the past 20 years. The IMC has acknowledged that its job is nearing completion and agrees that the time is right to bring the commission to an end. The Government are committed to ensuring that the public are kept informed about the threat of Northern Ireland-related terrorism and once we have received and considered the IMC's final report, the British and Irish Governments will do what is necessary to ensure that that need is met.

Iran

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are very concerned that the executions of Jafar Kazemi and Mohammed Ali Haj-Aqai were politically motivated. My honourable friend the Minister for the Middle East released a statement on 24 January 2011 condemning their executions, as well as the disturbingly high number of executions to have occurred already in 2011. We continue to call on Iran to release all political prisoners and to protect the rights of its citizens in line with its international obligations and the Iranian constitution.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are very concerned by the harassment of Christians in Iran and by the continued detention of a number of them, including those arrested from house churches. We have raised these concerns with the Iranian authorities on a number

1 Mar 2011 : Column WA313

of occasions in 2011, most recently on 12 January 2011, when Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials spoke to the Iranian embassy in London about this and other human rights concerns in Iran. We will continue to raise these cases, calling on Iran to cease harassment of, and to respect the rights of, all minorities.

Iraq

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are concerned by media reports suggesting that 280 Iraqi detainees are being held at Camp Justice having been transferred from Camp Honor, and we are following up these allegations with the Iraqi authorities. We understand that on 7 February 2011 the Iraqi Parliament voted in favour of forming a special committee to investigate claims about abuses in secret prisons in Baghdad. Our embassy in Baghdad works closely with the European Union Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq established to strengthen the rule of law and promote a culture of respect for human rights in Iraq.

Israel

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware that on 19 January Judge Dov Falk issued a decision to allow the destruction of graves in Mamilla cemetery.

The UK strongly believes that any changes to the fabric of the city in Jerusalem should respect its role as the centre for Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths.

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

Asked by Baroness Tonge



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA314

Lord Howell of Guildford: As the noble Baroness is aware, the UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building and we regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will continue to raise these issues with the Israeli Government as necessary.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware of a plan to move the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Colleges from its current site at Glelilot and have spoken to the Government of Israel about this. However, our understanding is that no decision has been made to relocate the college to Jerusalem and that no plan has been agreed or formally submitted to the relevant planning authority. We will continue to monitor this case and further raise it with the Israeli authorities if and when necessary.

Our view is that all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal and an obstacle to peace. It also threatens to make a two-state solution impossible in the future.

We understand the depth of Israeli security concerns. But, as my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has consistently stressed, in public and in private, we are very disappointed that Israel has not renewed the freeze on settlement construction. The Foreign Secretary discussed these issues most recently with Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman on 24 January 2011 in London.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is concerned about the recent reports by the Israeli human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO) B'Tselem detailing its investigations into the arrests of at least 81 minors from the Silwan area of occupied East Jerusalem over the past year. This includes four children under the age of 12.

The UK, along with EU partners, regularly raises our concerns with the Israeli Government about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees, including where children are involved.

As the noble Baroness is aware, the Government have recently approved funding of £12,300 for a project run by the Defence for Children International, which is intended to monitor, defend and promote the rights of Palestinian children, as protected under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to reduce the number directly and indirectly affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict. The UK also funds No Legal Frontiers, which aims to ensure greater access to justice, through

1 Mar 2011 : Column WA315

the publication of Israeli laws and military orders in Hebrew, Arabic and English and to carry out advocacy work. No Legal Frontiers also reports on the functioning of the juvenile military courts and provides legal defence for juvenile defendants.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is concerned about the recent reports by the Israeli human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO) B'Tselem detailing its investigations into the arrests of at least 81 minors from the Silwan area of occupied East Jerusalem over the past year. This includes four children under the age of 12.

The UK, along with EU partners, regularly raises our concerns with the Israeli Government about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees, including where children are involved.

As the noble Baroness is aware, the Government have recently approved funding of £12,300 for a project run by the Defence for Children International, which is intended to monitor, defend and promote the rights of Palestinian children, as protected under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to reduce the number directly and indirectly affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict. The UK also funds No Legal Frontiers, which aims to ensure greater access to justice, through the publication of Israeli laws and military orders in Hebrew, Arabic and English and to carry out advocacy work. No Legal Frontiers also reports on the functioning of the juvenile military courts and provides legal defence for juvenile defendants.

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the reports by Palestinian and international non-governmental organisations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, alleging torture and mistreatment by the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces. Most allegations refer to physical abuse and the use of stress positions and other coercive interrogation techniques.



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA316

The UK condemns any abuse of human rights. We take allegations of human rights abuses extremely seriously and are studying recent allegations of mistreatment by the PA Security Forces carefully. My honourable friend Alistair Burt raised the issue of human rights abuses when he met Prime Minister Fayyad on his recent visit to the region and asked for a concrete assurance that allegations would be investigated and appropriate actions taken. Prime Minister Fayyad gave this, noting that the PA was addressing this issue not just as a result of international pressure, but because he had a deep personal conviction that human rights should be respected and at the heart of a future Palestinian state.

Currently the UK provides direct budgetary support to the PA as part of our commitment to Prime Minister Fayyad's state building agenda. Part of his agenda is the reform of the Palestinian security forces. A condition of our memorandum of understanding is that the PA must make progress on human rights.

In addition we offer support through the Middle East and North Africa Conflict Pool (MENA CP)-a tri-departmental programme funded jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Ministry Of Defence (MoD) and the Department for International Development (DfID). Approximately two thirds of the MENA CP budget for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories focuses on improving the performance of the Palestinian security sector through a combination of support to the United States' Security Co-ordinator (USSC) and to the European policing and rule of law missions in the West Bank. The MENA CP support to the Palestinian Authority security forces is designed to enhance the forces' professionalism and build their capability to improve their performance against internationally recognised human rights standards and accountability.

In recent years, UK programme funds have helped provide technical advice on governance, leadership and human rights issues to the Palestinian security sector, including the Civil Police, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware of the allegations documented by Defence for Children International. Our officials in Jerusalem are in regular contact with the Defence for Children International and in close touch on the allegations they have raised.

Our consulate in Jerusalem is also this year funding a project with Defence for Children International-Palestine, to raise awareness of the treatment of minors detained in Israeli prisons.

The UK, along with EU partners, regularly raises our concerns with the Israeli Government about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees, including where children are involved.



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA317

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv and our consulate in Jerusalem regularly meet with members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and support the work they do. We encourage the ICRC to do all it can to monitor the situation of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

As the noble Baroness is aware, we continue to monitor the human rights situation in the West Bank, including the issue of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. Where we have concerns, we raise them with the Israeli Government, underlining our view on the need for immediate action to ensure all cases are reviewed by a court in accordance with fair procedures, and that rights, particularly the rights to a fair trial and family visits, are upheld.

We will continue to raise these points with the Government of Israel as necessary. We raise our concerns with the Israeli Government on a regular basis about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are not aware of any United Kingdom firms being involved in this project.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: As my noble Lord is aware, the UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building and we regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will continue to raise these issues with the Israeli Government as necessary.

Justice: Compensation

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Since the abolition of the discretionary miscarriages of justice compensation scheme in April 2006, the only government compensation scheme is the statutory scheme under Section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Compensation is paid under that scheme where a conviction is quashed following an out-of-time appeal or following a reference by the Criminal Cases Review Commission to the relevant appeal court on the basis that a new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice. Section 133 fully meets our international obligations. The Government do not operate a compensation scheme for those who have convictions quashed at in-time appeals or those who are acquitted at trial.

Kenya

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As part of its service for British companies, UK Trade and Investment has sought to facilitate discussion between private security company Group 4 Securicor (G4S) and the Government of Kenya by proposing it to the Kenyan Government on behalf of G4S, and offering a platform for such talks to take place. However, neither it nor any other government department has been directly involved in any such discussions between the two parties to date.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: I refer the noble Lord to my answer of 31 January 2011 (Official Report, col. WA230), which sets out the funding provided by the European Union (EU) in support of the International Criminal Court. We are not aware of any activity directly to fund the pro-International Criminal Court campaign in Kenya, although the EU does provide funding to international advocacy groups, such as the coalition for the International Criminal Court and Parliamentarians for Global Action, which may have undertaken work to support the work of the International Criminal Court in Kenya.



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA319

Kosovo

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The European Commission Liaison Office in Kosovo has exclusive responsibility for financial and project management, including procurement, for programmes taking place under instrument for pre-accession (IPA) funding.

The European Commission itself has a range of safeguards in place to ensure effective accounting. All IPA programmes and strategic documents are scrutinised by the UK and other EU member states at the IPA Management Committee. Projects themselves are subject to external examination under the European Commission's Results Operational Monitoring system on the basis of five criteria including impact and sustainability.

The IPA funds Kosovo receives are vital in assisting it to implement the reforms necessary to make progress along the path to EU accession.

Kuwait

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: In co-operation with the EU, we regularly raise human rights issues with the Kuwaiti authorities. These include discussion of issues such as the stateless Bidoon people of Kuwait, as well as the Kuwaiti penal system. The resignation of the Kuwaiti Interior Minister is an internal matter for the Kuwaiti authorities. However, it does highlight the position of the elected Parliament in Kuwait and shows that there is a process of accountability. An investigation is ongoing into responsibility for the events which prompted the Kuwaiti Interior Minister's resignation.

Local Authorities: Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA320

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Decisions on the level of those fees and charges which are not centrally set are a matter for individual councils.

The Government do not expect councils to address their financial challenges simply by increasing fees and charges. We have given councils much greater financial autonomy and flexibility to manage their budgets. If they share back office services, join forces to get better value from their buying power, cut out excessive chief executive pay and root out overspending and waste, then they can protect key frontline services.

Middle East

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in the other place on 1 February 2011. (Official Report, Commons, col. 42WS).

We routinely invite implementers from a wide range of civil society organisations, including non-government organisations and companies, to submit bids and participate in competitive bidding rounds for projects.

NHS: Hospital Fast-food Outlets

Question

Asked by Lord Shipley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The details and operation of these outlets are a matter for local National Health Service management. The department does not hold any records of them.

NHS bodies should consider their policy on the sale and provision of sensitive goods, and, in light of the developing debate on healthy living, we expect them to be wary of entering into new partnerships with fast food organisations or other providers that

1 Mar 2011 : Column WA321

provide foods high in fat, salt and sugar. However, existing contracts may have to be honoured.

Olympic Games 2012

Questions

Asked by Lord Bates

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have recently commenced consultations to inform the drafting of its resolution. We have not yet decided the title, but intend it to refer to the Paralympics. The UK's draft text will be presented at the UN in September.

Asked by Lord Bates

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Her Majesty's Government are considering very carefully their position on the London 2012 Olympic Truce. Any decision taken will factor in the views of our allies, and in the case of Afghanistan the views of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and NATO.

The Ministry of Defence has a wide variety of existing mechanisms for communicating with its forces.

Asked by Lord Bates

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government fully support the Olympic Truce. Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Truce are at an early stage and are led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We are interested in the views of international organisations in our proposals and will consult them at an appropriate stage.

Asked by Lord Bates

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government fully support the Olympic Truce. Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Truce are at an early stage and are led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We are interested in the views of international organisations in our proposals and will consult them at an appropriate stage.



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA322

Asked by Lord Bates

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government fully support the Olympic Truce. Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Truce are at an early stage and are led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We are interested in the views of international organisations in our proposals and will consult them at an appropriate stage.

Asked by Lord Bates

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government fully support the Olympic Truce. Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Truce are at an early stage and are led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We are interested in the views of international organisations in our proposals and will consult them at an appropriate stage.

Palestine

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As my honourable friend Alistair Burt made clear in his statement of 16 February 2011, the UK welcomes the announcement by the Palestine Liberation Organisation that it will hold national elections by September for all Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. We, together with our EU partners, stand ready to support the electoral process.

He also expressed his disappointment that Hamas has rejected these already long delayed elections. This reinforces the perception that Hamas is an organisation which can maintain its grip on ordinary Gazans only through repression and isolation.

Papal Visit

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA323

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As the Pope is both a head of a major international religion and a head of state, the Papal Visit in 2010 had the status of a state visit. No other religious leader combines these two roles.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: As with any bilateral relationship, there are issues on which our views and policies differ from those of the Holy See. These are areas that we discuss with the Holy See, along with a wide range of human rights and development issues, and on which the Holy See is clear about our position. However, our differences in these areas do not mean we are unable to work constructively together.

Peacebuilding Operations

Questions

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

Baroness Verma: Effective peacebuilding involves a wide range of partners working at different levels. Local peacebuilding organisations, multilateral partners and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can bring a different mix of strengths including deep knowledge of the local context, established relationships with local partners, access to international lessons learned and best practice, mentoring and support, relative impartiality, monitoring and evaluation and a channel for assistance. In supporting individual peacebuilding programmes we look to respond to the specific context on the ground and select the most appropriate partners accordingly.

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

Baroness Verma: The UK Government believe that conflict analysis benefits from the inclusion of local organisations and perspectives. This is reflected in the Government's guidance and training. For example, the Department for International Development's strategic

1 Mar 2011 : Column WA324

conflict assessment methodology and the cross-government conflict foundation course both highlight local peacebuilding and development organisations as key players in conflict analysis.

In line with this, DfID works closely with local peacebuilding organisations. For example, in Northern Uganda DfID is supporting a consortium including the Ugandan organisation Refugee Law Project to carry out analysis and monitoring of the conflict sensitivity of our post conflict development programme. In addition, DfID provides core support to several international NGOs, such as International Alert, Saferworld and Conciliation Resources, who routinely help to involve local peacebuilding organisations in conflict analysis.

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

Baroness Verma: Effective peacebuilding and stabilisation involve a wide range of partners. Local peacebuilding organisations often play a key role and support for their work is an important component of the Department for International Development's (DfID's) approach to peacebuilding. However, funding to local organisations is often channelled through multilateral partners and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). For example, the Government's Conflict Pool supported the UK-based organisation Saferworld to respond to the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya. Part of this funding supported local Kenyan organisation Concerned Citizens for Peace, which was carrying out community and national level peacebuilding and reconciliation. We are not therefore able to make an overall estimate of the overall percentage of funds being channelled to local peacebuilding organisations.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Government are reviewing the discount rate assumption required to perform valuations for each of the unfunded public service pension schemes. Valuations for these unfunded schemes, which include the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, will remain on hold until the review,

1 Mar 2011 : Column WA325

which includes a full public consultation, is completed. It follows that no informed forecast of cost changes can be made at this time.

The cost of actuarial advice in looking at any changes to the scheme will depend upon the scope of the question asked. The Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme receives actuarial advice under a commercial contract with a firm of actuaries. The costs of any work, and the number of personnel needed to carry it out, will vary depending upon the nature of the task.

It has been the policy of successive governments, when making changes, not to introduce them retrospectively. In any case, the Superannuation Act 1972 requires that no change be made to the scheme that reduces the amount of accrued pension without the consultation with those affected, or their representatives, and agreement being given.

Post Office: Credit Unions

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government are strongly supportive of Post Office Ltd working to strengthen its existing links with credit unions. The Postal Services Bill will have no direct impact on the link between Post Office Ltd and credit unions. However we believe that provisions in the Bill allowing for Post Office Ltd's separation from the Royal Mail Group will allow the Post Office to focus more sharply on areas with growth potential, such as strengthening its relationship with credit unions.

Public Sector: Salaries

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I refer the noble Lord to the organisational structure charts that have been published by departments, agencies and non-departmental bodies (NDPBs) on their websites which include information on individual Senior Civil Service salaries

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at pay band 2-4 and their equivalent grades. They are also available at http://data.gov.uk/search/apachesolr _search/pay°/o20organogram

The names of the special advisers in post whose salary is £58,200 or higher, together with details of the special advisers' pay ranges for 2010-11, were most recently published in the Prime Minister's Statement to Parliament on 28 October 2010 (Official Report, Commons, col. 18WS). The Special Advisers' Remuneration Committee, chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has overall responsibility for special advisers' pay.

The Cabinet Office does not hold the information requested on the salaries of staff working in the National Health Service.

Any proposals to appoint individuals to departments, agencies and NDPBs on full-time salaries above that of the Prime Minister (£142,500) must be approved by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Any appointments on salaries below £142,500 are a matter for individual departments in accordance with their own internal governance procedures.

Railways: Scheduling

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Government have no plans to include provisions on slack scheduling in future franchise agreements but compliance with punctuality obligations is carefully monitored.

Religious Leaders: Official Visits

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): In addition to being the head of a major international religion, the Pope is a head of state, and the Papal visit in 2012 had the equivalent status of a state visit. The costs to Government of the visit reflected that. As no other religious leader combines these two roles, it is unlikely that other visits by religious leaders would be funded in a similar fashion.

Social Care

Question

Asked by Baroness Hollins



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA327

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The spending review recognises the importance of social care in protecting the most vulnerable in society. In recognition of the pressures on the social care system in a challenging fiscal climate, the coalition Government have allocated an additional £2 billion by 2014-15 to support the delivery of social care. This means, with an ambitious programme of efficiency, that there is enough funding available both to protect people's access to services-including those people with learning disabilities-and to deliver new approaches to improve quality and outcomes.

Social Cohesion

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government are working to build throughout the country strong, inclusive communities which reject extremism.

We will not tolerate those who spread hate and seek to divide society and deliberately raise community tensions. Measures are taken at community level by the relevant authorities to counter the influence of extremists and minimise their impact. For example, we have worked with both local authorities including Bradford and Luton, and with voluntary organisations such as Rewind which work with young people at risk from being targeted and influenced by racist groups. They provide peer and youth services support as well as offering the young people an opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and to experience visits to places such as the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre and the Liverpool International Slavery Museum.

South Wales Police

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Sittings are measured in half-days. Below are the number of half-day sittings Mr Littlechild sat as a magistrate in a magistrates' court in each of the past three years:

2008-48;2009-49; and2010-41.

Mr Littlechild JP has not sat in the Crown Court.



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA328

State Recognition

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is impossible to provide a definitive list of factors that may be relevant to questions of recognition of states, as the circumstances in which claims to statehood are made vary considerably. For example, in UN Security Council Resolution 541 (1983), the Security Council found that the attempt to create a "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" was invalid, and would contribute to a worsening of the situation in Cyprus. The Security Council therefore called upon all states not to recognise any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus.

Sudan

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The right to self-determination of the people of south Sudan and the modalities for the possible independence of south Sudan were provided for within the comprehensive peace agreement. The UK supports the choice of the people of south Sudan and expects to recognise the state of south Sudan on or after 9 July 2011.

The UK's approach to recognition is that a purported state "should have, and seem likely to continue to have, a clearly defined territory with a population, a government who are able of themselves to exercise effective control of that territory, and independence in their external relations". Other factors including some UN resolutions might be relevant.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is providing technical and political support to the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA). We contributed nearly £10 million through the UN to support the referendum process. We continue to support President Mbeki in his role as chair of the African Union's High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, in particular on north-south border issues.



1 Mar 2011 : Column WA329

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Lord Howell of Guildford: We recognise the significant transparency and accountability challenges in southern Sudan. The UK is working actively with the Government of southern Sudan to help them address these challenges and ensure that they are responsive to the people of southern Sudan.

In January 2011 my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development made clear to Deng Alor, the Minister for Regional Co-operation, the importance of political leadership on this issue. We are also working with the southern Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission in support of its work.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Lord Howell of Guildford: The wealth-sharing protocol of the comprehensive peace agreement provides the basis for the division of oil revenues between the north and south. As a member of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, the UK has emphasised the importance of full and transparent implementation of this protocol to both parties and continues to do so.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Lord Howell of Guildford: We have emphasised to both parties the importance of inclusive and credible popular consultations in Blue Nile and southern Kordofan and continue to work closely with the UN and African Union on these issues. In Blue Nile state, the popular consultation is already underway: 68,000 people have contributed. The popular consultations in southern Kordofan will take place after the state assembly elections are held.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Lord Howell of Guildford: The wealth-sharing protocol of the comprehensive peace agreement provides the basis for the division of oil revenues between the north and south. The UK has emphasised for both parties the importance of full and transparent implementation of this protocol and will continue to do so.


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