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2 Mar 2011 : Column WA339



2 Mar 2011 : Column WA339

Written Answers

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Airports: Security

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

Earl Attlee: All cargo carried for valuable consideration on aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of 10,000 kilograms or more is subject to security controls at all UK airports.

Animals: Imports

Question

Asked by Lord Wills

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Since 1995 Home Office policy has prohibited the use of wild-caught non-human primates in scientific procedures licensed under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 except where exceptional and specific justification can be established.

The use in regulated procedures of non-human primates obtained from overseas sources is subject to controls intended to support the ban on the use of wild-caught animals. With regard to animals destined for the United Kingdom, the acquisition of each consignment of primates requires prior authorisation which is given only if the breeding centre meets specific qualifying standards of colony management. These include the operation of an effective breeding programme, an adequate system for maintaining individual lifetime records and, where applicable, a policy of reducing dependence on wild-caught animals for future breeding stock.

Information submitted to the Home Office following the acquisition of each batch of non-human primates includes copies of the individual lifetime records that prove that animals have been born in captivity.

With regard to primates imported for other purposes, all primates are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that all international, commercial trade in them is strictly regulated. The objective of CITES is not to prohibit all trade in animals and plants but to ensure that it is carried out in a sustainable way that ensures the long-term survival of all species.

Imports of primates are allowed only after a determination has been made by the United Kingdom's scientific advisers that the trade will not have a detrimental impact on the long-term survival of the species in the wild.



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Armed Forces: Accommodation

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Our latest data show that 47,383 service family accommodation (SFA) properties in the United Kingdom have been assessed for their standard for condition (SfC), with over 95 per cent of properties now at the top two (of four) condition standards. We regard both standard 1 and standard 2 properties as of a good standard.

At present, around 1,500 assessed properties are below standard 1 or 2 for condition. Properties at the lowest standard, standard 4, are no longer allocated and properties at standard 3 are only allocated when no other option is available. The numbers of properties at each SfC changes constantly as individual homes age or are disposed of. However, this year's upgrade programme will bring at least a further 800 SFA properties up to the highest SfC.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Lord Astor of Hever: The Government continue to attach a high priority to the quality of life of service personnel and therefore intend to deliver as many new or improved single-living accommodation bed-spaces as possible from efficiencies within the Ministry of Defence.

It is anticipated that in this financial year 2010-11, in excess of 4,000 new bed-spaces will be delivered through various initiatives, including Project Allenby/Connaught and Project Single Living Accommodation Modernisation (SLAM).

Armed Forces: Bomb Disposal

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Operational tour lengths across all areas of each of the three services are being considered as part of our Force Generation Review within the Defence Reform Unit alongside the service chiefs. We are aware of the contemporary issue

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regarding the high-threat bomb disposal operators in Afghanistan, and are considering various options as part of this process.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The latest published data on asylum applications are provided in the attached table.



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The Home Office publishes information on asylum on a quarterly and annual basis in the Control of Immigration publications. Provisional information on asylum applications is also published monthly in the Monthly Asylum Statistics release. These are available from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.

The European Union offers financial assistance to participating member states, including the United Kingdom, through the European Refugee Fund and European Return Fund, both of which include asylum seekers within the eligible target group. Asylum seekers may also be supported by European Social Fund prevocational projects.

Applications received for asylum in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, by location where made, 2000 to November 2010(1)
2000200120022003200420052006200720082009 (P)Jan to Nov 2010 (P)

Applications received(2)

80,315

71,025

84,130

49,405

33,960

25,710

23,610

23,430

25,930

24,485

16,420

Of which:

Applied at port

25,935

24,865

26,560

13,720

7,550

4,230

3,580

3,635

2,720

2,010

1,575

Applied in-country

54,380

46,160

57,570

35,685

26,410

21,485

20,030

19,795

23,210

22,475

14,845

(1) Figures (other than percentages) rounded to the nearest 5 ( - = 0, * = 1 or 2), and may not sum to the totals shown because of independent rounding.

(2) May exclude some cases lodged at Local Enforcement Offices between January 1999 and March 2000.

(P) Provisional figures.

Banking: Levy

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The bank levy is not deductible for corporation tax purposes so has no direct impact on the level of corporation tax paid by banks. The levy has been designed specifically to target risky short-term funding which led to serious liquidity problems that played a key role in the financial crisis. By design, the levy is not charged on insured customer deposits and only applies at half-rate to uninsured customer deposits (except for those from financial institutions) and funding that has over one year remaining to maturity. The levy therefore ensures that banks make a contribution reflective of the risks they pose to the UK financial system and wider economy. The treatment of deposits also reflects the general desirability of encouraging banks to increase the proportion of their funding from deposits.

The Government are also clear that competition drives efficiency and helps to ensure that consumers are able to access the wide range of financial products that they need. As part of its remit, the Independent Commission on Banking will look at the state of competition in the industry and how customers and taxpayers can be sure of the best deal.

BBC: World Service

Question

Asked by The Archbishop of York

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made it clear in his Statement to the other place on 26 January 2011 that the BBC World Service, like any other taxpayer-funded body, must ensure that it is working on the right priorities and as efficiently as possible. In the current financial climate, we believe that a 16 per cent cut to the BBC World Budget is a fair deal. It maintains the same proportion of money coming from the FCO since 2008.



2 Mar 2011 : Column WA343

The new budgets for the BBC World Service are £253 million/£242 million/£238 million over the first three years of the 2010 spending review period. From 2014-15, funding of the BBC World Service will be transferred to the licence fee.

We share with the BBC a common aim to build on the historic achievements of the World Service and ensure it continues to retain its global influence and reach in a rapidly changing world.

Buses

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Volunteers are able to drive community transport vehicles with up to 16 passenger seats, with some conditions, but without the need for a passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) driver's licence. The conditions are in place to ensure the safety of passengers and other road users, which is consistent with wider road safety policy. Safety is particularly important for large buses and is why a PCV licence is required for vehicles with more than 16 passenger seats. However, the Local Transport Act 2008 removed restrictions on payment, allowing the use of professional drivers for large community transport vehicles.

The ability to allow volunteer drivers without a PCV licence to drive community transport vehicles was a concession secured in a European Union driver licensing directive after UK pressure on behalf of the community transport sector and other not-for-profit minibus operators. We are obliged to comply with European law and therefore limited to what the directive allows.

Children: Care

Question

Asked by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Minister with responsibility for looked-after children, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Tim Loughton MP, met representatives from London Children in Care Councils in November 2010. This was one of a series of meetings the department is organising for the chairs of children in care councils. A meeting will be held in each of the nine English regions by the end of March 2011.



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Education Maintenance Allowance

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are considering the replacement for the education maintenance allowance and want to ensure that the funds we have are targeted on those young people who most need support to enable them to participate in learning. I am not able, at this time, to provide an estimate of the proportion of young people who would currently qualify for an education maintenance allowance who will receive support under the new arrangements.

Education: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord King of West Bromwich

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Detailed information about educational projects is held locally. Partnerships for Schools holds information about Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects. Solihull and Wolverhampton's BSF projects were not affected by the Secretary of State's decision to halt the programme. Dudley had not yet entered the programme. Information on the number of BSF projects stopped, as well as the value of each local authority's total scheme is listed below:

Birmingham

Thirteen school projects were stopped. The indicative funding envelope was circa £150 million.

Coventry

Twenty one school projects were stopped. The indicative funding envelope was circa £430 million.

Walsall

Six school projects were stopped. The indicative funding envelope was circa £100 million.

Sandwell

Nine school projects were stopped. The indicative funding envelope was circa £160 million

Birmingham, Walsall and Sandwell were in the early stages of the BSF programme and the value of each school project had not been determined. Just three of the Coventry school projects had been given firm funding allocations. These were, Broad Spectrum (PK) and President Kennedy which were co-located and had combined total funding of £53 million and Westwood which had been allocated £12 million.



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Partnerships for Schools also holds information on those projects which were due to receive funding from the co-location fund. The funding for Birmingham's co-location project, Stockland Green Young People's Centre, was withdrawn due to the lack of progress and the risk of the project not being completed by the deadline to which the city council had committed itself. Coventry and Wolverhampton's co-location projects were unaffected and Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Solihull did not have co-location projects.

All further education colleges, including those now designated sixth-form colleges, that had capital projects under way and approved at the time of the formation of the coalition Government continue to be fully supported as previously agreed. This means that no further education college capital projects have been stopped as a result of a reduction in government funding.

Education: Languages

Question

Asked by Baroness Coussins

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): For the 2010 performance tables only accredited GCSEs or iGCSEs counted towards the English Baccalaureate measure.

The English Baccalaureate has been designed to give pupils the opportunity to study a core group of academic subjects-English, mathematics, a humanity, the sciences and a language. The Government are concerned that the number of pupils who currently receive a broad education in core academic subjects is far too small, particularly for pupils in disadvantaged areas. We want to encourage more pupils to study these subjects and to open up opportunities for all pupils to have a broad and rounded education. Other qualifications remain viable in their own right and we will encourage all pupils to study non-English Baccalaureate subjects and qualifications alongside the core English Baccalaureate in order to benefit from a well-rounded education.

Elections: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government have no plans to remove the requirement for mailings by candidates at district council elections in Northern Ireland to be sent to individual electors in order to qualify for free

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delivery. The financial implications of any change to allow unaddressed mail to be sent free of charge on behalf of all candidates would need to be carefully considered and would require full consultation with district councils in Northern Ireland, who would ultimately bear the costs of such a change.

Film Industry: UK Production

Question

Asked by Baroness Benjamin

Baroness Rawlings: We do not hold statistics for how many of the films passed by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in 2010 were UK productions. We can only confirm the number of the films which received final certification through the British Cultural Test.

We do not hold statistics for how many children's films were made in the UK in 2010. The figure for the number of films classified by the BBFC in 2010 as suitable for children and young people was given in my oral Answer on 14 February (Official Report, col. 505).

In 2010, the UK Film Council made six grants totalling £113,500 towards children's and young people's films. This works out at 0.757 per cent of the UK Film Council's budget for film funding in that year.

Government Departments: Suppliers

Question

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Authorisation was not sought for use of the headline in Serco's information sheet about its services to government departments.

It should be noted that suppliers often use a variety of terminology to describe their relationship and business with the public sector.



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Higher Education: Overseas Students

Questions

Asked by Lord King of West Bromwich

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The table below provides the number of student visas issued in 2010.

CountryTier 4 applicationsPre-PBS Tier 4 casesStudent visitor visasTotal

Bangladesh

8,792

197

117

9,106

India

42,216

298

3,335

45,849

Pakistan

22,611

1,872

305

24,788

These figures are in relation to main applicant only and do not include dependants.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Neville-Jones: At 17 February 2011 there were 197 B-rated educational institutions on the UK Border Agency's tier four sponsor register, of which 182 have stated that they are privately funded.

Since February 2010 these sponsors have assigned a total of 23,075 confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS) to prospective students from outside the European Economic Area.

All B-rated sponsors are subject to a time-limited action plan detailing the measures required to attain A-rating.

International Monetary Fund

Question

Asked by Lord Birt



2 Mar 2011 : Column WA348

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have a very constructive relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was reflected in the nature of discussions with IMF staff during the 2010 Article IV consultation. The Government recognise the important role the IMF plays in its surveillance of its member countries, and welcomes the work of the Independent Evaluation Office and others to identify how this surveillance can be further improved. The Government are looking forward to engaging with IMF staff again during the next Article IV consultation with the UK later this year.

Kenya

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Baroness Verma: The requested information cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost. The Department for International Development (DfID) and the European Union (EU) fund Kenyan non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through a range of channels, including some in Kenya from the DfID bilateral aid budget, some from centrally managed DfID funds and some from EU civil society funding instruments. A criterion for DfID's centrally managed Civil Society Challenge Fund is that DfID can only fund UK-based organisations, which can then spend money through an implementing partner in-country-there is thus no direct funding to Kenyan NGOs through this channel, but some indirect funding. We do not hold disaggregated data on how much each NGO in receipt of UK funds spends in Kenya.

DfID publishes a projects database (www.dfid.gov.uk/About-DfID/Finance-and-performance/Project-information) which will have increasing levels of detail of all our expenditure, including through NGOs. This is in line with the commitment made by the Secretary of State under the new aid transparency guarantee.

Northern Ireland: Operation Banner

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The support that Ministry of Defence civilians from all sides of the community in Northern Ireland gave during Operation Banner was formally recognised at a reception at No 10 Downing Street in May 2007. A letter from the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, acknowledging the commitment

2 Mar 2011 : Column WA349

and sacrifice made by these civilians in Northern Ireland is proudly displayed in Headquarters 38 (Irish) Brigade.

This Government wholly endorse these and other efforts to recognise the loyal and dedicated service given by civilian workers during Operation Banner.

Papal Visit

Question

Asked by Lord Tomlinson

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Chief Secretary to the Treasury's formula for splitting costs was as follows: the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should contribute £750,000, and the remaining costs (up to a maximum of £10 million) should be split equally between the Department for International Development (DfID), the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government-reflecting the key themes of the visit. The FCO's contribution was lower in recognition of our agreement to take on the role of single budget holder for non-policing costs of the visit, entailing responsibilities well beyond our normal remit.

The five departments each gave the FCO £1.85 million in advance to cover expected costs of £10 million. The actual cost paid by the FCO on behalf of the Government was £6,981,330. The FCO will therefore offer reimbursement to each department of £603,734, apart from DfID, where Ministers agreed the DfID money will be used to help pay for the UK's costs incurred for the New Zealand earthquake humanitarian assistance that has been provided rather than reimbursed.

The Written Ministerial Statement published on 16 February 2011 by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State provides further details. It is available in the Libraries of the House.

Railways: East Coast Mainline

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



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Lord Shutt of Greetland: Network Rail's East Coast Capacity Review was carried out as a development of the East Coast Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS). In RUS studies Network Rail has sought to establish the most appropriate service pattern for each route, in particular the appropriate number of long-distance high-speed trains, without making any recommendation as to the identity of the operators of those trains.

The existing charging mechanism approved by the Office of Rail Regulation requires open access operators to pay only the marginal costs-termed variable track access charges-incurred by their trains.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Department for Transport set out the broad requirements for the new timetable in its specification for the InterCity East Coast franchise when that franchise was re-let in 2007. The department has facilitated the subsequent development of the timetable by Network Rail and train operators by ensuring that co-ordinated service changes are made by the various operators on the route to deliver the right overall service pattern.

Railways: Fares

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Using 2010 fares and revenue data makes the baskets more accurate. There are always small-scale data-quality issues with the number of fares in the system and Department for Transport officials work hard to ensure these are addressed as they arise.

Railways: Passenger Compensation

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



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Earl Attlee: Train operating companies pay compensation to passengers for delays and other matters arising from poor service, under the terms of their passengers' charters. The terms of the passengers' charters are approved under their franchise agreements.

Where passengers are dissatisfied with the operator's response, they are advised to contact Passenger Focus, the independent national rail consumer watchdog, appointed by Parliament. Passenger Focus may raise issues with the Department for Transport which have not been resolved to their satisfaction.

The Department for Transport monitors payments from operators to passengers in respect of all claims for compensation but not specifically in respect of delayed services.

The amounts payable under the Passenger's Charter are minimums and operators are free to enhance these minimum payments at their discretion.

Railways: South Eastern

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Officials at the Department for Transport monitor South Eastern's performance against its contract on a four-weekly basis: this review includes operational performance and the delivery of committed obligations.

Following the severe winter weather in November and December 2010, the department called for an urgent audit of how transport systems coped during this time. This was carried out by David Quarmby CBE and the results were published on 21 December 2010. Responding to David Quarmby's findings, the department has called on the rail industry to formulate proposals on contingency timetables, real-time information and management of vulnerable third rail systems. The rail industry has also been asked to conduct the review of its operational performance recommended in the results of the audit.

The rail industry's National Task Force will be reviewing operational performance by South Eastern and Network Rail in Kent. This will not be limited to the adverse weather episode. It will also cover general performance levels. The department expects senior figures from the train operator and Network Rail to discuss their findings with the department once this work has been undertaken.

School Finance (England) Regulations 2011

Question

Asked by Baroness Wilkins



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We laid the regulations on 18 February. They have been laid before Parliament under the negative resolution procedure.

Schools: Academies

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The number of academies in each local education authority in England can be found on the Department for Education's website at http//www.education.gov.uk/academies. Once on the website click on the link "schools submitting applications and open academies" where the information can be found.

Schools: Disruptive Pupils

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government have made it clear that we support heads who permanently exclude pupils who are very disruptive or violent. We are clear that an orderly and safe environment is essential if effective education is to take place.

The Education Bill, introduced on 26 January 2011, will reform the unduly adversarial process which can sometimes follow when a head teacher must, as a last resort, exclude a pupil. It will establish independent review panels to replace the current independent appeal panels with the power to direct a school's governing body to reconsider a decision, but it would not be able to oblige the governors to reinstate the pupil.

Sport: Football Transfer Fees

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Like other economic activities, professional football is subject to the provisions of European Union treaties across a range of areas, including freedom of movement and the operation of the single market. Subject to those obligations, the

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Government believe that wherever possible, the responsibility for the regulation of sport best sits with that sport itself.

Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the reports referred to. We have regular discussions with our French, US and other international partners to discuss issues relating to Sudan and the International Criminal Court. On the basis of these discussions, we continue to assess that there are currently no grounds to consider an Article 16 deferral.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: EU member states regularly discuss Sudan at working level and in the Foreign Affairs Council. The EU has given clear and strong support to the referendum process in Sudan and has strongly supported the Doha peace process on Darfur. The EU maintains an arms embargo on Sudan.

Asked by Lord Chidgey



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Lord Howell of Guildford: We were active in working for a solution to Sudan receiving funding from European Development Fund (EDF) 9 in the absence of their membership of the Cotonou agreement (a treaty between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States). The EU is using €150 million of EDF 9 funding to run projects inside Sudan, including €85 million to the south, focused on support to basic services, governance, food security and the rural economy. Funding is currently being programmed and we are pressing for this to be disbursed as quickly as possible. After independence, we hope to see the Republic of South Sudan sign the Cotonou agreement and therefore become eligible for further European development funding.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK and France engage together on Sudan issues at all levels of government. We work closely both within the EU and the UN Security Council, but also in the Sudan Contact Group (UK, US, France, Norway, Netherlands, Canada and EU) and the E6 Group of Envoys (UK, US, France, Russia, China and EU). We also work bilaterally on issues such as Darfur and the Chad-Sudan relationship.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK has been at the forefront of discussions on Sudan at the Foreign Affairs Council in recent months. Working closely with the High Representative and member states, the UK has helped to provide EU support for the referendum process and for the acceptance of its outcome.


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