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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether representatives of Brazil, Russia, India and China have raised any concerns with civil servants in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about the lack of runway capacity at Heathrow or other British airports.[HL11134]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): No concerns have been raised with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. However, the Department for Transport (DfT) has received representations about the difficulty in securing access to Heathrow, including landing slots. DfT published a scoping document in March 2011 seeking views/evidence from stakeholders on strategic aviation issues. DfT notified a number of London embassies/high commissions, including the above, about the aviation policy scoping exercise, encouraging them to respond directly to the DfT.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The report issued by the then West Yorkshire (West) coroner under Rule 43 of the Coroners Rules 1984 (as amended) following the inquest into the death of Alesha Thomas was sent to the Lord Chancellor in accordance with the rule. Rule 43 reports are not published in full but are summarised in six-monthly bulletins of all Rule 43 reports and responses received which are published on the Ministry of Justice website. The Rule 43 report following the inquest into Alesha Thomas's death was included in the bulletin published on 10 March 2010. A copy of the full report, redacted in accordance with data protection requirements, is available on request from the Ministry of Justice.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in implementing each of the 16 recommendations of the Weatherall Report, published in 2006, on the use of non-human primates in research into the prevention or treatment of disease. [HL11381]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): I will write to my noble friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Subject to the passage of the Education Bill, schools will be under a duty to secure access to independent, impartial careers guidance for their pupils from September 2012. The guidance must include information on the full range of 16-18 education and training options, including apprenticeships. Schools will be free to determine how best to fulfil this duty, taking into account the needs of their pupils. In addition, we fund 16-19 provision and have pledged to continue fully funding Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) and Level 3 (A-level equivalent) programmes for young adults.
The Government are strongly committed to investment in apprenticeships for young people including setting out clear routes to widen access. This includes establishing a new Access to Apprenticeships pathway within the programme to widen access for young people aged 16-24.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the numbers of (a) officers, and (b) other ranks, serving in each of the Army, the Royal Navy, and the Royal Air Force, on 1 April in (1) 1980, (2) 1990, (3) 2000, (4) 2005, (5) 2010, and (6) 2011.[HL10941]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The numbers of officers and other ranks in each of the three services is
20 July 2011 : Column WA295
|Strength of UK Regular Armed Forces, at 1 April each year|
To ask Her Majesty's Government why, in their response to the First Report of the House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls, 2010-12, they have declined to support the introduction of legislation covering re-export of arms controls; and whether they will give this further consideration. [HL11108]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Committees on Arms Export Controls First Joint Report of Session 2010-11 published on 5 April 2011 did not include a recommendation to introduce such legislation and therefore the Government's response to the report published on 7 July 2011 did not seek to address this issue.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the sentence received by Dr Al Singace and are deeply concerned by the nature of the charges brought against him and the 20 other political figures. We have not been able to establish the whereabouts of Dr Al Singace and have no specific information about his welfare.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my honourable friend Alistair Burt, made a statement on 22 June 2011 expressing his concern about the process surrounding the sentencing of the 21 opposition members, and the nature of many of the charges. He said he was
20 July 2011 : Column WA296
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 4 July (WA 2) concerning Project Merlin, whether the commitment and obligations are made and accepted by HSBC Bank Plc or HSBC Holdings Plc. [HL10866]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Project Merlin Banks' statement represents a collective commitment on the part of the major UK banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, and, in the context of lending, Santander).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 7 July (WA 89), what are the tools available to hold the banks to the published lending commitments they made under Project Merlin.[HL11199]
Lord Sassoon: The Chancellor has made clear that the Government will use every tool available to hold the banks to the published lending commitments which they made. For example, the expectations, capacity and willingness relating to lending to small and medium-sized businesses will be given more weight in the performance metrics of the chief executives of each bank for 2011, as well as the leaders responsible for the relevant business areas, than the SME lending share of each bank's profits might otherwise imply.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the conclusion of the Bank for International Settlements that the current proposals under Solvency II are likely to have a significant adverse effect on the availability of equity finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and infrastructure. [HL11200]
Lord Sassoon: Solvency II will require insurers to assess the risks they are exposed to on both the liability and the asset side of the balance sheet and to hold capital commensurate to the underlying risks. The European Commission has proposed a treatment of equity holdings, and of fixed income products, on the basis of an objective assessment of a 99.5 per cent probability (within a 1-year time horizon) that firms will be able to meet their obligations. This approach was confirmed when the Solvency II Directive was adopted in 2009.
A wide range of international organisations have commented on the effects that Solvency II could have on the investment patterns of the European insurance industry, including on the availability of equity finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and on infrastructure.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which body will determine the activities in which a ring-fenced retail bank can engage under the interim proposals made by the Independent Commission on Banking. [HL11203]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 7 July (WA 90), whether they will ask the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) to cease pressing those with unclaimed deposits from failed Icelandic banks to reclaim their money; how much in each of the failed banks has been deemed ineligible for compensation by the FSCS; and whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the power to withdraw the offer of repayment to those with deposits of over £50,000 that have not sought recompense.[HL11087]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Contacting potential claimants in a failed institution is a matter for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which operates independently from Government.
The previous Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that retail deposit holders in the failed Icelandic banks would be compensated in full. The Government intend to review this position once the banks' legal liability to customers ends.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 11 July (WA 123), whether they have extrapolated and accumulated the amounts so far recovered from each of the failed Icelandic banks and the respective administrators' charges; and whether they will publish the totals in the Official Report.[HL11282]
Lord Sassoon: Recoveries from the Icelandic Accounts are provided in HM Treasury's 2010-11 annual accounts. Information on the Icelandic Banks can be found on pages 188 - 191. The accounts are available online at: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/annual_report_accounts 140711.pdf
As of 31 March 2011, a total of £275.5 million had been paid by the Heritable administrators and £1.6 billion by the KSF administrators, in respect of combined Financial Services Compensation Scheme and HM Treasury claims.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Financial Services Authority was fully consulted at all stages on the 2011 bank stress tests conducted by the European Banking Authority; and whether they agreed with the methodology and the proposed form of disclosure of the results.[HL11113]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority (FSA), as a member of the European Banking Authority (EBA), has been closely involved with the stress test design and implementation.
FSA involvement predates the establishment of the EBA at the beginning of 2011. The FSA has been involved in both the technical level of the stress test design and implementation, in the governance of the EBA through FSA representation at the EBA Board of Supervisors and Board of Management, and through the secondment of an FSA stress test expert to the
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EBA decisions are made by the Board of Supervisors and inevitably involve some compromises to reach agreement. However, the FSA believes this year's EU-wide stress test is credible and robust, and, taken as a whole, is tougher than last year's Committee of European Banking Supervisors' stress tests, with a tough peer review process and a tighter definition of Core Tier 1 capital.
The FSA believes in the value of transparency and orderly disclosures of relevant risk information to the market on a comparable basis. The EBA stress test and risk exposure disclosure templates should help market participants to reach better informed and more balanced judgments about the relative risk and soundness of individual financial institutions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Under EU regulations on the co-ordination of social security for migrant workers, benefit entitlements are, broadly, determined by where a citizen has worked and paid their insurance contributions. If an EU citizen resident in the UK were claiming a benefit from their country of origin, that information is not required by my department unless that person is also trying to claim a benefit in the UK. There are therefore no figures available for such cases.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 28 June (WA 404) concerning the attendance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Bilderberg conference on 9-12 June, what is the purpose of the Bilderberg Organisation; what subjects are discussed at their conferences; whether these are conducted by an agenda; whether minutes of proceedings are published; and what benefits accrue to the United Kingdom from the participation of Ministers of the Crown in these conferences.[HL10848]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bilderberg meetings are attended by politicians and businesspeople from around the world who come together to discuss topics of significance for international policy makers. Ministers in previous Administrations have attended these meetings and they are also attended by former Ministers.
Copies of any agenda and minutes of the meetings are not publicly available as they are part of ongoing policy formulation and their release could prejudice UK economic interests and international relations. The informal nature of discussions provides space for wide ranging discussions and for frank and candid exchange of views.
Further information is available via the conference organiser's website: http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/meeting_20.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether discussions between the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and News Corporation in connection with a possible bid for BSkyB have prejudiced the Secretary of State's freedom to refer the matter of the proposed bid to the Competition Commission. [HL10917]
Baroness Rawlings: Not at all. The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport announced on 11 July that the matter was being referred to the Competition Commission. The noble Lord will be aware that on 13 July News Corporation dropped its proposals to buy the remaining shares in BSkyB.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there are any legal impediments which would prevent the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport delaying for a year his decision on News Corporation's bid to buy the remaining shares in BSkyB.[HL10963]
Baroness Rawlings: The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport referred the matter to the Competition Commission for consideration on 11 July. However, as the noble Lord will be aware, on 13 July News Corporation dropped its proposals to buy the remaining shares in BSkyB. If the bid had not been withdrawn, on receipt of the Competition Commission's advice, the Secretary of State would have been able to take as long as necessary to make his decision.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of displaced people in Burma's Kachin State following the ending of the cease-fire agreement between the Burmese Army and the Kachin Independence Army.[HL10909]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are deeply concerned by reports that the ceasefire agreement in Kachin State has broken down, leading
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Our ambassador to Rangoon raised concerns with the Burmese Government on 9 and 10 June. We also remain in close contact with UN agencies and other organisations working in the areas affected by the fighting. We are clear that peace and stability in Burma can be achieved only through a process of genuinely inclusive dialogue that addresses the concerns and long-standing grievances of ethnic groups.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to enable viable firms to remain in business during the collection of revenues from the small and medium-sized business sector from HM Revenue and Customs.[HL11071]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HMRC's Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) aims to provide a high-profile and fast-track gateway into the decision-making process for businesses seeking time to pay (TTP) and to give quick decisions in the simpler and lower risk cases. Between its launch in November 2008 and the end of March 2011, some 428,800 arrangements were granted through the BPSS, involving £7.37 billion of tax. £6.31 billion has already been paid to HMRC from mature arrangements. Its launch did not, and does not, affect HMRC's underlying policy or approach to TTP, which has not changed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in response to the recommendation by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on "descent-based discrimination" in the United Kingdom, whether they will inform the committee of the outcome of any research into caste-based discrimination. [HL9475]
Baroness Verma: We anticipate that the outcome of the recent research into caste-based discrimination in the United Kingdom carried out by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research will form part of the Government's evidence to the forthcoming review by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many diagnosed cases of Clostridium sordelli there were each year since 2005; and how many deaths have resulted from the infection, broken down by patient age, sex and the source of the bacteria.[HL11060]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, since 2005, what medical treatment was undertaken on patients within (a) 7 days, (b) 14 days, (c) 21 days, and (d) 28 days prior to their diagnosis of Clostridium sordelli. [HL11062]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Tankerness on 11 July (WA 119), what role stannary law plays in Cornwall, in the light of the primacy of law passed by the United Kingdom Parliament. [HL11245]
Lord McNally: Stannary law oversees the administration of equity for the region's tin-mining interests. The Devon and Cornwall Stannary Courts were merged following the Stannaries Act 1855, but their powers were later transferred to county courts by the Stannaries Court (Abolition) Act 1896. If an issue of stannary law was raised it would be for a court to decide in the context of a particular case what account, if any, is to be taken of stannary customs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made, following the Transparency International report of 15 June Corruption in the UK, of corruption in (a) central government, and (b) local government.[HL10960]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Government take seriously any allegation of corruption. We expect Ministers, civil servants and political advisers to abide by the law and conduct government business in accordance with standards set out in the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code and the Code for Special Advisers.
We have also put transparency at the centre of what we do. We have an ambitious programme of work to make the public sector more transparent and accountable so as to strengthen the public's trust in government.
Fraud is a priority. The National Fraud Authority estimates that £21 billion is lost to fraud in the public sector each year. Of this, £15 billion is due to fraud in the tax system, £1.5 billion in the benefits system, £2.6 billion in central government and £2.1 billion in local government. The Government's Counter Fraud Task Force, chaired by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, is overseeing a programme of work to tackle the estimated £21 billion lost to fraud in the public sector each year. It has already delivered £12 million in savings, by undertaking pilots using innovative technology to prevent and detect fraud. These pilots are expected to save £1.5 billion over the next four years.
The National Fraud Authority has also been working with council chief executives, finance directors and professional bodies to develop a local government fraud strategy. The strategy aims to identify the key fraud risks faced by local government and the common measures that can be taken to improve the prevention and detection of fraud and realise savings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many foreign nationals, listed by home country, suspected of serious criminal offences claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid arrest and charge in the Metropolitan Police area in each of the past three year years.[HL10872]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, diplomats are expected to obey the law of the receiving state. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When advised of an alleged offence by the police, the FCO always raises the issue
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Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, a diplomat may only be arrested by the police if a waiver of immunity has been granted by the sending State. Waivers of immunity were requested in 11 cases involving allegations of serious offences during the previous three years. Seven of the diplomats were withdrawn from the UK.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is the practice to rescind the credentials of those diplomatic staff and their named relatives who claim immunity to avoid arrest and charge on suspected criminal offences.[HL10873]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, diplomats are expected to obey the law of the receiving state. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When advised of an alleged offence by the police, the FCO always raises the issue with the mission concerned, seeks waivers when requested by police, and for the most serious offences seeks the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat.
The figures given on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences, it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same penalty is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 7 July (WA 95), whether their consultation paper Rebalancing the Northern Ireland Economy was made known to any newspaper or radio broadcasters outside
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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government recognise the importance of engaging fully with individuals, practitioners, businesses and other organisations in the development of tax policy.
In addition to the press invited to the launch event on 24 March, which I detailed in my Answer of 7 July, the Chancellor announced the consultation in his Budget speech, which was broadcast live on national television. The consultation was not advertised in the media. However, it was published on the HM Treasury website and there has been considerable media interest which has generated significant coverage in Northern Ireland, as well as some coverage nationally.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 23 June 2010 (WA 184), how many cybrid embryos have been generated with eggs from non-human species in total according to records held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA); and how many other classes of "admixed human" embryos have been generated.[HL11064]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 7 November 2002 (WA 145), how many human embryos have been (a) created, (b) frozen, (c) destroyed, (d) implanted, and (e) experimented upon. since the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.[HL11065]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the most recent information it holds shows that 155 embryos, defined as human admixed embryos by Section 4A(6)(a) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990,
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The HFEA has also advised that its register does not hold the information based on the specific categories listed in the noble Lord's question. The information as contained in the HFEA register on 14 July 2011, for the period ending 30 June 2010, which is the latest verified period, is shown in the following table.
|Creation and Usage of Human Embryos 1991-2010|
|Created through all forms of IVF||Stored for later use||Discarded in the course of treatment||Transferred for implantation||Given for research|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, for each year since 2003, how many (a) applications were made, and (b) licences were issued, for tissue typing; and for which diseases the licence applications were approved in each respective year.[HL11106]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that since October 2009, it has published all prelimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) licensing decisions on its website, including where PGD with Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) tissue typing applications are considered. This information is set out in the following table.
|PGD: Applications Considered and Conditions Approved By HFEA|
|Year||Number of applications considered by Executive Licence Panel||Number of licences||Conditions approved||Conditions not approved|
The HFEA has also advised that before October 2009, PGD decisions, including HLA, were not published. However, the authority publishes a table on its website that lists all PGD/HLA conditions that have been licensed since 2003. This table can be found at: www.hfea.gov.uk/cps/hfea/gen/pgd-screening.htm
|End of 2007||End of 2008||End of 2009||End of 2010|
Data from tables DUKES 7.4 (end-2007 and end-2008) and ET 7.1 (end-2009 and end-2010), available at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/energy_stats/source/renewables/renewables.aspa.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the current Ofgem price control review will put in place requirements on the industry to run and fund safety awareness programmes embracing the risk of carbon monoxide deaths and injuries.[HL11105]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Under the terms of the gas supply licence, suppliers are required to provide customers with gas safety information at least once a year. Ofgem monitors suppliers' compliance with licence conditions and can take enforcement action where required.
Ofgem has also set up a working group to encourage the gas distribution network (GDNs) companies to consider a range of carbon monoxide awareness initiatives. The GDNs are instigating a number of trials during 2011 to look at a variety of methods for protecting customers from carbon monoxide poisoning. The outcome of these trials will help define specific outputs which the distribution companies will have to deliver as part of the next price control in April 2013.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) assesses the effectiveness of consumer awareness campaigns by the gas safe register through a series of key performance indicators (KPIs). These include specific targets to raise awareness of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and latest survey results show that 80 per cent of consumers were aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and steps they could take to protect themselves.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of proposals for a European Union coastguard service; whether such proposals would involve a transfer of competence to the European Union; what would be the effect on the United Kingdom coastguard service of such proposals; and whether agreement to such proposals would be made by qualified majority voting or unanimity. [HL11314]
As part of the proposed revisions to the European Maritime Safety Agency's (EMSA) founding regulations, the European Commission has proposed doing a feasibility study into a European Coastguard system. The proposed regulation has not yet been agreed and is currently being considered.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the proposition by the Rapporteur of the European Parliament's Culture, Sport and Education Committee that the European Union Flag should be flown at big sporting occasions and that competitors should display the European Union logo on their clothing; and whether such a policy would be decided by qualified majority voting or unanimously.[HL11040]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We believe that decisions on which flags and logos are worn or displayed at big sporting occasions are for individual competing teams and event organisers to make, not the European Union.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish in one document details of all the regulations, directives and other agreements they have made with the European Union since May 2010 which have transferred new powers to the institutions of the European Union.[HL11015]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This Government have agreed that there should be no further transfer of power or competence from the UK to the EU over the course of this Parliament. In that context this Government have made no regulations, directives or other agreements with the European Union since May 2010 which have transferred new powers to the institutions of the European Union.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Female genital mutilation is an illegal and unacceptable form of child abuse and a form of violence against girls and women that the Government are committed to eradicating. We want to protect current and future generations of girls from this abuse and to ensure that those girls and women living with the consequences of FGM are given the care and support they deserve.
Our focus is prevention. The Government have recently (February 2011) launched multi-agency practice guidelines for front-line professionals such as teachers, GPs and nurses. The guidelines aim to raise awareness of FGM, highlight the risks that people should be aware of and set out clearly the steps that should be taken to safeguard children and women from this abuse. Legislation alone cannot eliminate the practice so our resources will be aimed at raising awareness of the law on FGM and the health implications with communities and front-line practitioners. The guidelines are a key step in ensuring that professionals are able and confident to intervene to protect girls at risk. In addition, more than 40,000 leaflets and 40,000 posters on the prevention of FGM have been circulated to schools, health services, charities and community groups around the country.
FGM's prevalence is difficult to estimate because of the hidden nature of the crime. However, a study based on the 2001 Census suggested that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 could be at high risk of FGM in England and Wales each year, and nearly 66,000 women in England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM.
FGM has been explicitly illegal since 1985 when the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 was passed. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (which came into force on 3 March 2004) repealed and replaced the 1985 Act and made it an offence for the first time for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad, or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad, even in countries where the practice is legal. To reflect the serious harm that FGM causes, the Act also increased the maximum penalty from five to 14 years' imprisonment. There have so far been no prosecutions under the 2003 Act. Research suggests that the most likely barrier to prosecution is the pressure from family or wider community that leads cases to go unreported. The CPS is due to publish new legal guidance on FGM later this summer to ensure that it is able to prosecute cases of FGM that satisfy the evidential and public interest tests within the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
Temporary United Kingdom residents (refugees and asylum seekers whose application is still being considered, and anyone who has been lawfully living in the UK for 12 months immediately prior to treatment) are afforded the protections available to permanent UK residents, including access to 15 specialist clinics in the NHS which treat women and girls who have been subjected
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In relation to responsibility for commissioning female genital mutilation services, the consultation paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Consultation on the Funding and Commissioning Routes for Public Health proposed that local authorities should be responsible for working in partnership to tackle issues such as social exclusion including violence prevention. This could include supra-local commissioning of services such as female genital mutilation (FGM) clinics. The consultation closed on 31 March 2011 and the Government will be publishing their response shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why there have been no prosecutions for Female Genital Mutilation in the United Kingdom; and what discussions they have held with officials from other countries where successful prosecutions have taken place.[HL11002]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutes cases that have been investigated and referred to it by the police. Every case that is referred to the CPS for a charging decision is reviewed in accordance with the full code test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors (the code). This requires that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest for a prosecution to proceed. To date, there have been no prosecutions of cases involving female genital mutilation (FGM) as there has been insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. A case that does not pass the evidential stage of the full code test must not proceed no matter how serious or sensitive it may be. However, agencies are working closely together to raise awareness and encourage reporting of FGM, so that they can be thoroughly investigated and evidence gathered.
The CPS is a member of the Cross-Governmental Female Genital Mutilation Steering Group to help tackle this practice, but it has not held discussions with officials from other countries on this issue. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is in regular dialogue with its counterparts in other countries on wider FGM matters. In January 2011, the UK's Cross Government FGM Co-ordinator visited Ethiopia and highlighted a number of areas for improving our work on FGM, particularly in community engagement and international diaspora relations, so that the practice of FGM can be eradicated.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who, other than general practitioners, will be responsible for commissioning Female Genital Mutilation Services under their proposals for reform of the National Health Service.[HL11003]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department proposed in Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Consultation on the Funding and Commissioning Routes for Public Health that female genital mutilation (FGM) clinics should be commissioned by local authorities. The consultation closed on 31 March and the department published its response to the consultation feedback on 14 July. The response makes clear that on the basis of feedback from stakeholders, the department has changed its position and can now confirm that the FGM services will be commissioned by the National Health Service. Further details on arrangements for this commissioning will be announced in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether collateral transformation poses an added risk to financial systems; and whether steps will be taken to collect and publish data and enhance transparency in this area.[HL11112]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Ongoing regulatory reform is likely to change significantly the quantity and quality of collateral that market participants require as part of their business.
Potential risks associated with this have been noted by the UK authorities. In its June 2011 Financial Stability Report, the Bank of England discussed transactions involving collateral transformation, described as collateral swaps.
The Financial Policy Committee (FPC) has advised the Financial Services Authority that its bank supervisors should monitor closely the risks associated with these types of transactions. The FPC also expressed its support of international initiatives to improve the availability and quality of data on intra-financial system activity.
The UK authorities are working both domestically and internationally to assess any risks that may be presented by the way that firms access the collateral they need, with a view to ensuring that those risks are appropriately mitigated in an internationally consistent manner.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what submissions they intend to make to the European Commission concerning the proposed Investor Compensation Schemes Directive; and when they expect the new Directive to take effect.[HL11141]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As with all European directives, the Government have engaged closely with the European Commission, other European institutions and other member states on the investor compensation schemes directive.
Negotiations on the general approach to the investor compensation schemes directive are still ongoing and will continue into the autumn. The new directive will
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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Under the provisions of the Firearms Acts, it is necessary to have separate certificates for Section 1 firearms and Section 2 shotguns although these may be issued on a co-terminous basis and for a reduced fee if the applicant so wishes. Applications for the grant of a firearm or shotgun certificate must be made in the prescribed form to the chief officer of police for the area in which the applicant has his principal place of residence, whether that is in England, Wales or Scotland.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of the Republic of Ireland concerning the issuing of pardons to those former members of the Irish army who were court martialled and had their rights to state employment and benefit, including pensions, removed because they joined the Crown forces during World War II.[HL11242]
Sir Philip Hampton's 2005 review, Reducing Administrative Burdens: Effective Inspection and Enforcement, considered how to reduce unnecessary administration for businesses, without compromising the UK's excellent regulatory regime.
As a result of the final recommendation, "creating a business-led body at the centre of government to drive implementation of the recommendations and
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is a consistent set of metrics within government departments tasked with carrying out marketing activities, in order that the impact of marketing campaigns in the short, medium and long term can be assessed, and the value of consistent investment in Government marketing initiatives be recognised and receive on-going commitment of funds. [HL10897]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Central Office of Information's (COI) evaluation team and the Government Communication Network (GCN) provide best practice marketing evaluation guidance and resources for government departments. Current guidance publications are available via the COI website: http://coi.gov.uk/guidance.php?page=389
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): There is one Regulators Compliance Code (the Compliance Code) for Government and not separate departmental ones.
The Government laid a draft of the Compliance Code before Parliament on 15 October 2007. The Compliance Code was issued by the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 17 December 2007 under Section 22(1) of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. It came into force on 6 April 2008. It has not been amended.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Browning on 23 June (WA 334-6), what was the reasoning for terminating the research "Evaluation of serious organised crime task force programme".[HL10588]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The research "Evaluation of serious organised crime task force programme" was terminated during a period of general budget reductions across the Home Office. An assessment of the merits of continuing the research was made relative to other organised crime work, including research, and it was considered best value for money to terminate this work and prioritise resources elsewhere.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what data they collate on the proportion of the workforces based in (a) the United Kingdom, and (b) overseas, for the top 20 companies based in the United Kingdom.[HL11081]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 21 June (WA 279), what was the variation agreed in the project "minimising medicine use in organic dairy herds through animal health and welfare planning"; and for what reason.[HL11123]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): All Defra evidence contracts are closely monitored by Defra specialists working with policy colleagues. Contract variations are required if there are significant changes to any of the details in the original agreement (e.g. costs, required outputs, timetable, research team, etc).
The project titled "Minimising medicine use in organic dairy herds through animal health and welfare planning (ANIPLAN)" was initiated as a result of the co-operation in CORE Organic under an EU supported ERA Network, within which European research funding organisations set up co-operation between national research activities in organic food and farming.
A no cost extension to this project was agreed from 30 April 2010 to 1 November 2010, following a request by the project consortium to the CORE Organic Project Co-ordinators, to organise and hold a final workshop, and be able to include the findings of this in the final report.
Further information on CORE Organic can be obtained at www.coreorganic.org.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 21 June (WA 279), what was the variation agreed in the project "UK eutrophying and acidifying atmospheric pollutants (UKEAP)"; and for what reasons.[HL11194]
Lord Henley: All Defra evidence contracts are closely monitored by Defra specialists working with policy colleagues. Contract variations are required if there are significant changes to any of the details in the original agreement (eg costs, required outputs, timetable, research team, etc).
In June 2010 the Defra contract UK Eutrophying and Acidifying Atmospheric Pollutants (UKEAP) was amended to include £23,030 of additional work. The work was to establish the levels of fluoride deposition in the UK following the continued eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull, in Iceland. This included increasing the frequency of sampling from fortnightly to weekly at 8 PrecipNet sites for a three-month period; the addition of the fluoride ion to the list of species analysed for all samples for the three-month period; and the additional analysis of samples from the nominated eight sites that were collected before the eruption.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 21 June (WA 279), what was the variation agreed in the project "Research into noise and vibration from building mounted micro-turbines"; and for what reasons.[HL11197]
Lord Henley: All Defra evidence contracts are closely monitored by Defra specialists working with policy colleagues. Contract variations are required if there are significant changes to any of the details in the original agreement (eg costs, required outputs, timetable, research team, etc).
In June 2010 the Defra contract "Research into noise and vibration from building mounted micro-turbines" was amended due to the supplier having made an error in the financial section of its tender bid. The supplier is not VAT registered and included an element of VAT in its bid. The contract was amended to reflect the correct cost of the contract.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the nature and type of information they requested from Google on 1,162 occasions in the six months to 31 December 2010, as detailed in Google's latest Transparency Report; and which government bodies made the requests.[HL10940]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The Home Office does not believe that Her Majesty's Government have requested the information Google specifies in its latest Transparency Report directly. We believe this information relates to communications data requests made mainly by law enforcement agencies.
Communications data are information about the who, where and when of communications such as phone calls and e-mail. It does not include the content of communications. This information is retained by communications service providers for a period for their own business purposes.
Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), specified public authorities may require specific communications data to be provided to them by a communications service provider in order to fulfil one of a number of statutory purposes specified in the Act-such as the prevention and detection of crime.
The Government advocate the benefits of a strong support workforce that is driven by local service need. It is therefore the local healthcare providers which are best placed to decide how to organise the skills mix of their workforce in order to achieve better quality outcomes and value for money for their patients.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the European Directive on traditional herbal medicinal products, herbal products will still be allowed to be sold in the United Kingdom as food supplements.[HL11101]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): A herbal product which falls outside the definition of a medicine and which is sold as a food or food supplement is unaffected by the European directive on traditional herbal medicinal products. In the United Kingdom, the decision as to whether a product falls within the definition of a medicinal product is made by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on a case by case basis using the definition of that term contained in Article 1 of directive 2001/83/EC together with relevant legal precedent and the MHRA's own published guidance. The European directive on traditional herbal medicinal products did not amend that definition.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any human organs have been imported from China since (a) 2000, and (b) 2006; if so, how many and of what type; and whether checks were made in all cases to verify that they had been obtained with full consent.[HL11116]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 4 July (WA 10), why no payments were made to the United Kingdom in the last three years for European Union nationals resident in the United Kingdom for healthcare costs, and sickness and maternity benefits under EU regulations by Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, and by the Netherlands for the last two years; how much were any United Kingdom claims actually made to those countries; and what was the accumulated total paid to those countries by the United Kingdom over the past three years for the same costs.[HL11034]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 4 July (WA 10), whether there is a time limit on backdating payments to European Union countries making claims for healthcare and social security costs under European regulations for United Kingdom pensioners, dependants of pensioners, and for dependants of residents in those countries of their nationals working in the United Kingdom.[HL11086]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): European Union (EU) Regulations 1408/71 and 574/72 have no time limits for introducing claims or paying those claims for healthcare benefits in kind. All claims and payments made up to and including the end of the financial year 2009-10 were in accordance with the regulations. Individual member states have been able to decide when to submit and pay claims. The United Kingdom submits claims for residents from other member states once the average costs for the relevant year have been published in the Official Journal of EU.
Total average cost claims submitted by the UK to the countries referred to in the financial years 2007-08,
20 July 2011 : Column WA319
|EEA Medical Costs|
|UK Claims Submitted in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-101 for Articles 94 and 952|
|EEA Medical Costs|
|Total Payments to Member States 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-101|
|Payments for Article 94 and 95 Claims2||Payments To Member States £ Equivalent3|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they will put in place to ensure that the money spent through the United Nations World Food Programme in the Horn of Africa goes to where it is most needed.[HL11077]
In response to the current crisis in the Horn of Africa the Department for International Development (DfID), where possible, will undertake live programme monitoring including of UK funded World Food Programme (WFP) activities. Upon completion of these programmes DfID aims to carry out final evaluations where it is able to do so. Such measures are normal DfID practice and play an important role in assessing the impact of our support.
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) remains in close contact with the World Food Programme (WFP) regarding the organisation's emergency operations in the Horn of Africa. The Secretary of State for International Development and the head of WFP, Josette Sheeran, have discussed WFP's response to the situation in the region. Going forward DfID will continue discussions with WFP and other humanitarian actors responding in the Horn.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): There are no plans to provide Members with netbooks. Past assessments of these products have shown that they cannot run the House security software. The Information Committee plays an advisory role in matters such as this and members of that committee are currently conducting a trial of tablet computers. As part of this trial, the committee will assess whether such devices may assist Members in their parliamentary work, having regard to their compatibility with the parliamentary network, information security guidelines and cost. The committee will evaluate the results of the trial at the end of the year.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The House of Lords Administration offers work placements, for a maximum of one week, to students aged between 15 and 18. Placements are available in June and July only. There is no set limit on the number of placements offered and those seeking placements are allocated to offices according to their preferences. The number of placements which can be made in each individual office is a limiting factor and depends on the predicted workload of the office concerned. In June and July 2011, 46 applications for placements were received, and 26 placements were undertaken.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the United Kingdom representative at the 115th meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe did not raise or discuss the question of the decision by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Hirst (No. 2) v the United Kingdom on the voting rights of prisoners; who was the representative; why no resolution was proposed; and whether they will propose a resolution at the next meeting on the problems and issues as they relate to the United Kingdom.[HL11037]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): At its 1115th meeting the committee adopted a decision in respect of Hirst (No. 2) v the United Kingdom which can be found here: https://wcd.coe.int/wcd/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=CM/Del/Dec(2011)1115/28&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&Site=DG4& BackColorInternet=B9BDEE&BackColorIntranet= FFCD4F&BackColorLogged=FFC679
The Government were represented at the meeting by the deputy head, UK delegation to Council of Europe. Since the UK has until 11 October to introduce legislative proposals to Parliament, there was no need for a discussion or a resolution on implementing prisoner voting rights at the meeting. The Government are considering the next steps. The Committee of Ministers next meets in September.
The figures given on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Browning on 6 July (WA 78), (a) what is the evidence from economic literature that, in the absence of non-European Union student workers, non-migrant labour will not be sufficient; and (b) whether the figure used in the published Impact Assessment of a loss of output of £2 billion to the United Kingdom economy was based on the assumption that none of the current output by students could be effected by British workers.[HL11084]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The economic literature for the UK has provided no evidence of displacement by migrants, either for students in employment or non-migrant workers generally.
On this basis, the student impact assessment assumed that none of the lost output is taken up by British workers. As set out in the Written Answer on 6 July (WA 78) "it is not clear that this necessarily applies at a time when growth in the economy is less well-established. If there was some displacement, the economic impacts would be significantly lower".
The Home Secretary has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to research the labour market, social and public service impacts of migration, including the issue of displacement, and it is due to report in November.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will undertake a review of the ways in which private security companies carry out enforced removals of individuals from the United Kingdom, in the light of complaints that have arisen.[HL11010]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Private sector escorting companies operate within a clear framework set out in legislation and in a
20 July 2011 : Column WA323
The UK Border Agency expects escorts to carry out their work with the utmost professionalism and sensitivity and has, over the past few years, introduced a number of measures to ensure the protection of staff and detainees. These include the use of contract monitors at the main airports used for departures, and an independent monitoring board at Heathrow Airport.
Detainee custody officers (DCOs) are accredited by the UK Border Agency to fulfil their functions, which includes using reasonable force as a last resort to ensure an individual complies with their removal. All DCOs are trained in control and restraint techniques accredited by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), and receive refresher training every 12 months as a condition of their individual accreditation to work as a DCO. Restraint training is delivered by professionals and we are satisfied that the techniques are safe. We have, however, asked NOMS to conduct a fundamental review of the techniques used in order to see whether they can be made even safer. This review is ongoing.
We are satisfied that private sector escorting companies have acted professionally, ensuring that those in their custody are treated with dignity and care. Where detainees complain that the use of force has been excessive, the matter is investigated by the UK Border Agency's professional standards unit. If a complainant is unhappy with the response they can ask for the issue to be re-examined by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, whose role was extended in 2006 to investigate complaints by immigration detainees.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Independent Banking Commission will be required to support its recommendations by a full cost-benefit analysis; and whether it will examine the competitive impact of its proposals or whether this will be subject to separate review.[HL11114]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) has been tasked with considering the structure of the UK banking sector and with looking at structural and non-structural measures to reform the banking system and promote competition.
The ICB's terms of reference state that it will have regard to the legal and operational requirements of implementing the options under consideration, as well as the importance of generating practical recommendations. It will also take into account the findings of ongoing EU and international work and inform the UK Government's approach to international discussions on the financial system.
The commission is required to have regard to the Government's wider goals of financial stability and creating an efficient, open, robust and diverse banking sector, with specific attention paid to the potential impact of its recommendations on:financial stability;lending to UK consumers and businesses and the pace of economic recovery;consumer choice;the competitiveness of the UK financial and professional services sectors and the wider UK economy; andrisks to the fiscal position of the Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assist British companies who are yet to receive payment from the Government of India for contracts relating to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.[HL11227]
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Government are aware of the difficulties that some British companies have had in receiving payment for services provided during the Commonwealth Games. We have raised our concerns with the Indian Government at ministerial level and our officials in the high commission in Delhi are in regular touch with senior officials across the many different ministries involved to try to find a resolution.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further reports they have received from the Israeli and Palestinian authorities on (a) the treatment, and (b) the condition of incarceration, of child prisoners in Israeli prisons.[HL11058]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to monitor this issue and often receive reports from various non-governmental organisations including Defence for Children International. The UK remains concerned about the number of children currently being held in Israeli prisons. We raise our concerns with the Israeli Government about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees, including where children are involved, on a frequent basis. Most recently my honourable friend Alistair Burt raised this during his recent visit to the region
20 July 2011 : Column WA325
The noble Baroness may be interested to hear that alongside our existing projects, our consulate general in Jerusalem has recently secured funding to fund the UK Bar Committee for Human Rights to come to the Occupied Palestinian Territories in September 2011 to research a report about the treatment of children arrested and detained in the Israeli military court system.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the impact on the provision of free and reliable legal advice on immigration and refugee issues of the entry into administration of the Immigration Advisory Service, the winding up of Refugee and Migrant Justice, and the cuts in legal aid.[HL11059]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The position of both the Immigration and Asylum Service (IAS) and Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) is not a direct consequence of the proposed legal aid reforms, not least because these reforms have yet to be implemented. The primary concern for the Government and the Legal Services Commission is to ensure clients of the IAS and RMJ continue to get the help they need.
The LSC ran a tender round for new immigration and asylum contracts in October last year and there was an increase in the number of offices that applied to do the work and bids for more than double the amount of cases that were available. The LSC has already received 140 expressions of interest to take on this work.
All immigration and asylum providers will continue to be expected to meet the same high quality standards that are in place. These include compulsory accreditation schemes for all advisers and supervisors. We will seek to ensure that the interests of this vulnerable group are properly protected.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what evidence they have received that the Government of Malawi purchased an executive jet for the President of Malawi while receiving budget support from the United Kingdom Government.[HL10979]
Baroness Verma: The Government of Malawi did purchase an executive jet for the President of Malawi in 2009 while receiving general budget support from the UK through the Department for International Development (DfID) in 2009.
DfID cut £3 million from its planned £22 million general budget support in 2009 due to concerns about the implications of the purchase of the jet for sound public financial management and for the Government of Malawi's commitment to poverty reduction.
The UK Government suspended general budget support to Malawi indefinitely in July 2011. The Secretary of State for International Development took the decision after the Government of Malawi repeatedly failed to address UK concerns over economic management and governance.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Since the introduction of spending controls across Government on marketing and advertising in June 2010, there has been a 68 per cent reduction in government spend on advertising and marketing through the Central Office of Information (COI), from £532 million in 2009-10 to an estimated £168 million in 2010-11.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to reduce the discrepancy between the total of national insurance numbers issued and the numbers of active workers or retired people registered in the system.[HL11180]
The latest available figures (Feb 2011) show a total of 83.36 million national insurance number (NINo) records on the department's Customer Information System (CIS). This includes NINos of people known to be living abroad and 19.63 million NINos relating to deceased persons.
Once a NINo is allocated it needs to remain on the department's computer system. This is because the NINo provides a permanent numerical link between the individual and their national insurance contribution record, which determines entitlement to contributory benefits and state pension. The NINos of deceased individuals are retained on the system as a partner may make a claim for a contributory benefit, which is dependent on the contribution record of the deceased.
The retention of the NINo for deceased persons on our systems-clearly marked as such to DWP staff-also provides an important counterfraud measure in that it prevents fraudsters from hijacking these numbers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 13 July (WA 189), how many of the 63.73 million not-deceased holders of national insurance numbers have been in active employment in the past 24 months, broken down by nationality.[HL11254]
Lord Freud: Information detailing how many of the 63.73 million not deceased holders of national insurance numbers have been in active employment in the past 24 months is not available as it could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any probation officers in England and Wales have been trained in the use of the domestic abuse, stalking and harassment and honour-based violence risk model.[HL11066]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Probation Service has 5,758 probation officer staff employed by 35 probation trusts and working in many different locations. There is no single central point for management information relating to training in the use of the domestic abuse, stalking and harassment and honour-based violence risk model.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will lay before Parliament regulations to establish the Special Health Authority to accommodate the National Research Ethics Service; and when it will be fully operational.[HL11231]
To ask Her Majesty's Government (a) what is the proposed timescale for the setting up of the new Health Research Regulatory Agency; (b) what functions currently carried out by other bodies will be transferred into that agency; and (c) what is the proposed timescale for such transfers.[HL11234]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government announced in the Plan for Growth at the time of the Budget in March that we would create a Health Research Authority (HRA) to combine and streamline the approvals for health research that are presently scattered across many organisations, in order to reduce the regulatory burden and increase the speed and cost-effectiveness of developing new treatment and care in the United Kingdom. We said we would establish the HRA this year, initially as a special health authority with the National Research Ethics Service (NRES) as its core.
We plan to make and lay the relevant statutory instruments this autumn to establish the HRA as a special health authority later this year. It is to take on substantive functions from the date of its establishment. The new body will be set up to focus on health research regulation. It will in the first instance bring together in one place the work of the bodies that presently provide the NRES. The new body will be well placed to make preparations for taking on board additional functions when it becomes a non-departmental public body (NDPB), subject to primary legislation.
The NRES is currently a division of the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA). The NPSA has 25 posts within the NRES head office. It also contracts with other bodies to host a further 117 posts within NRES regional centres. Of the 25 head office posts, 20 are filled by NPSA employees on permanent contracts and four by secondees or other non-permanent workers, while one is currently vacant.
The NRES will not be replaced by the HRA. It will be a division at the core of the HRA. The NRES currently works with the devolved Administrations to promote a robust, consistent system of research ethics review across the UK. The HRA will continue this work. It will also take on the current appointing authority functions of strategic health authorities. Further consideration will be given to the extent to which it may be able to take on or carry out other functions under current legislation so that it can foster improvements across many other parts of the regulatory environment for research.
Where we can achieve these improvements without primary legislation, we shall. Where primary legislation is required in order to develop the role of the HRA and consolidate functions, it will be introduced in a later Bill. For example, further primary legislation is needed to transfer functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).
In addition to the core NRES functions and those currently performed by the HFEA and HTA, we are exploring the possibility of a number of other functions moving to the HRA when it becomes an NDPB. The aim is to streamline the approval and compliance processes and requirements for health research, as described in the Plan for Growth.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Decisions about whether or not to investigate any taxpayer are a matter for the Commissioners of HM Revenue and Customs. Decisions are taken based on the commissioners' assessment of the risk of tax loss.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Under European Union (EU) regulations, member states are required to make payment where a valid claim is made by another member state for treatment provided. A member state that fails to make such payment will be in breach of the regulations and subject to possible infraction proceedings by the European Commission.
The Government are continuing to strengthen the data capture process to ensure that the United Kingdom claims all the money to which it is entitled from other member states. This work includes areas such as the European health insurance card and the registration of EU pensioners that come to the UK to live.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many doctors from Sub-Saharan Africa are currently receiving training in the United Kingdom as part of the Medical Training Initiative for international doctors.[HL11074]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In 2010-11, 21 doctors from sub-Saharan Africa were receiving training as part of the medical training initiative for international doctors.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on doctors from Sub-Saharan Africa who are receiving training in this country of the decision to restrict their stay in the United Kingdom to one year.[HL11075]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): In our consultation document Employment-Related Settlement, Tier 5 and Overseas Domestic Workers, published on 9 June, we are consulting on changes to Tier 5. This includes a proposal to cap leave across the Tier 5 temporary worker route, which includes government- authorised exchange schemes of which the medical training initiative is one. The consultation invites views on this proposal and a decision has not been made. Any impact will be assessed in the light of responses to the consultation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 19 May (WA 362) concerning the use of taxis by the staff of the Northern Ireland Office, under what circumstances are taxis used between a residential address and a government building; and to whom in the Northern Ireland Office such arrangements are allowed.[HL11331]
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