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11 Oct 2011 : Column WA223



11 Oct 2011 : Column WA223

Written Answers

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Airports: Heathrow

Questions

Asked by Lord Bowness

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The e-passport gates at Heathrow are open between 6 am and 10 pm every day. Outside those hours the demand is considerably less so it is not economic to have them open. The only other reason for e-passport gates being non-operational is where there is a technical problem.

Asked by Lord Bowness

Lord Henley: The UK Border Agency at Heathrow deploys staff flexibly to meet its published service standards. For the European Union and the European Economic Area that is 95 per cent of passengers cleared within 25 minutes. This standard is met at Heathrow.

Bat Khurts

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): A complete or accurate breakdown of costs incurred in this case is not held centrally. This is because a number of departments and agencies are involved in the extradition process, including the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Crown Prosecution Service, the police and HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

However, the Home Office is currently undertaking an exercise to estimate the cost of the extradition process and these estimates will be available in due course.

Under the terms of the framework decision on the European arrest warrant, all costs incurred in executing a warrant shall be borne by the executing state. All other costs, such as compiling and translating the warrant and the cost of collecting and transporting the person back to the issuing state are borne by that state.



11 Oct 2011 : Column WA224

China

Question

Asked by Lord Soley

Earl Attlee: On both occasions government officials explained how the independent slot allocation process works in the UK and the options available to airlines seeking slots at UK airports.

At the round of formal UK/China air services negotiations in April, the Chinese delegation was also able to meet representatives from a number of UK airports. They received a presentation on the slot allocation process from Airport Co-ordination Limited (ACL), the independent body responsible for slot allocation, schedules facilitation and schedule data collection at a large number of UK airports.

Drugs: Pyridostigmine Bromide

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Information on the age of National Health Service patients prescribed a medicine is not collected centrally, so no meaningful comparison can be made.

It is for the prescribing clinician to decide for how long a patient should be prescribed a particular medicine, taking into account the patient's individual circumstances. Information on the usual duration of the treatment period for civilians prescribed pyridostigmine bromide is not collected centrally.

Energy: Carbon Reduction

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government will use a combination of statutory and other publications to give insight into their future plans for different types of non-carbon energy supply and the likely carbon savings and costs of those systems. These are: the government response to the annual progress report by the Committee on Climate Change, which will be published by 15 October at the latest; the updated emission projections; the report on the estimated impacts of energy and climate change policies on energy prices and bills; and the annual energy statement, which this year will take the form of an Oral Statement to Parliament.

Housing Benefit

Question

Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Housing benefit recipients, local authority tenants, as a percentage of local authority dwellings stock-June 2011.

HB LA caseload as a percentage of LA households

Great Britain

64.9

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Provisional Office for National Statistics estimates of long-term international migration show that net migration fell from 242,000 in the year ending September 2010 to 239,000 in the year ending December 2010.



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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The impact assessment published alongside the Government's response to consultation lays out the best estimates of the costs and benefits of the legal aid reforms. Extensive discussions were also held with other government departments as part of the policy development and clearance process, which included discussions on systemic costs. Ultimately, costs to other departments will be driven by behavioural responses to the changes, and these are very difficult to predict with any real degree of accuracy.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord McNally: There are no current plans to change the present system that operates in practice for police station advice. It is currently intended that initial advice and initial assistance at the police station (or for those held in custody at other premises) should continue to be available to all those to whom it is available at the moment. The provisions in the Bill would also allow for the introduction of means-testing in future, although there are no current plans to do so.

Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The rules governing arrangements for competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games are a matter for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and not Her Majesty's Government. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not recognised by the United Nations and does not have a National Olympic Committee recognised by the IOC.



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Qualifying athletes who consider themselves to be affiliated to the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are not prevented from competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Such athletes are free to compete under the flag of a National Olympic Committee recognised by the IOC for which they hold a passport.

Overseas Farming

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

Baroness Northover: Smallholder agriculture is an important element of at least 12 of our bilateral aid programmes and of relevant multilateral work funded by DfID, such as our programmes with the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The new DfID gender vision places an emphasis on empowering girls and women. This includes strengthening their access to economic assets and maximising what has been proven to work. For women farmers this means specifically strengthening their access to productive inputs, finance and gender-aware extension services. In Rwanda, DfID is helping communities agree land ownership rights among themselves so that 6.4 million people-half of whom will be women-will have formal title to their land.

People Trafficking

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Government's strategy on human trafficking sets out the commitment to explore what further role the public can play in identifying information about trafficking; and to raise awareness and vigilance in particular communities.

The Home Office is working with other government departments and non-governmental organisations to identify what more can be done to increase public awareness of human trafficking, both in the UK and overseas.

Police: Annual Leave

Question

Asked by Lord Adonis



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Information showing Metropolitan Police officers on leave for any particular day is not collected by the Home Office. It is a matter for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Railways: Procurement

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport's options are limited by EU procurement rules.

Continuing with our current procurement process with a view to reaching contractual close with Siemens is our preferred option and the one we are pursuing. This would enable circa 1,200 new trains to be delivered, enabling a 24 trains per hour service through the core of London by 2018, and facilitate a cascade of existing Thameslink trains to other parts of the rail network.

The utilities regulations and European law prohibit the introduction into the evaluation process at this stage of new criteria that might alter the outcome of the procurement process. This is not therefore an option open to the department.

The invitation to tender has a provision that allows the Secretary of State to terminate the competition. The wording of this right in the invitation to tender is as follows:

"The issue of this ITT in no way commits the Secretary of State to award the TRSP [Thameslink Rolling Stock Procurement] to any person or party. The Secretary of State reserves the right to terminate the competition, to award the TRSP without prior notice, to change the basis, the procedures and the timescales set out or referred to in this document, or to reject any or all Proposals and to terminate discussions with any or all Bidders at any time. Nothing in this ITT should be interpreted as a commitment by the Secretary of State to award the TRSP to a Bidder".

This power is constrained by the overarching procurement law under which the competition was conducted.

The legal framework would not allow the Secretary of State to vary the procedures or the basis of the competition in a manner that could disadvantage any bidder in a way that altered the outcome of the competition.

The Secretary of State does have a power, in certain circumstances, to terminate the competition. However, any decision to terminate would have to be based on valid and defensible reasons, for example that changes in external factors result in the overall Thameslink programme no longer being value for money or affordable to the taxpayer.

If bidders considered that the reasons for termination were not valid, they might choose to challenge the decision. If successful, they might be able to injunct the Government and prevent the termination of the current procurement. There is also a risk that bidders could be awarded damages, including loss of profit.



11 Oct 2011 : Column WA229

Even if a decision to terminate and retender on a different basis was taken based on valid reasons and survived a challenge in the courts, it would not be possible to achieve an early award of a new contract. This could take two to three years and the outcome of such a tender would be uncertain.

This would delay the much needed capacity increases associated directly with Thameslink and the cascade of vehicles to support electrification programmes in the north-west of England and on Thames Valley routes. It would also result in less efficient delivery of the infrastructure works associated with the Thameslink programme, resulting in higher delivery costs to Network Rail. Both the delay of benefits and less efficient delivery would adversely impact on the value for money of this public expenditure.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Earl Attlee: We are unable to undertake and disclose the requested assessment of the long-term cost of the Thameslink contract at present because this would disclose the preferred bidder's capital costs of trains and depots. This information is commercially confidential and disclosure may harm the commercial interests of the bidder and the Department for Transport.

Furthermore the department is bound by the process agreement entered into between bidders and the department that prevents the disclosure of information about the bidders' proposals.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport has been invoiced in relation to the Thameslink rolling stock project by the companies Arup, Booz, First Capital Connect, Nichols, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Willis, as well as by the limited liability partnership Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport has been invoiced in relation to the Intercity Express programme by the companies Elan IT, Mott MacDonald,

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Nichols, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Steer Davies Gleave, as well as by the limited liability partnership Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: It is the Department for Transport's policy to require all consultants and advisers to declare any possible conflicts of interest when offering their services on any particular contract or assignment. This requirement is set out in the contract terms issued to consultants and advisers when invited to bid for a contract.

Furthermore, bidders are advised that it is their ongoing responsibility to advise the department of any change in circumstances that could be viewed as a conflict of interest during the period of the contract.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: Siemens and Cross London Trains were appointed as the preferred bidder for the Thameslink rolling stock project contract on 16 June 2011. The Department for Transport and Siemens plc have been finalising the terms of the contract since then.

Social Fund

Questions

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Of the 72 respondents to the March 2010 consultation on the Social Fund, 26 were against the provision of goods and services instead of cash for community care grants.

Seventeen organisations and two individuals were supportive, but 10 of these voiced reservations. The remainder of respondents gave either a neutral response, or did not comment.



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The supportive organisations are listed below:

Financial Inclusion Taskforce;Money Advice Trust;SAY WomenA4e;Consumer Focus;HLG;Stonham Floating Support;Homeless Link;National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers;Family ActionAge UK;Stockport Advice;Home GroupSave the Children;Personal Finance Research Centre; Broadway; andYorkshire Housing.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: The information available is provided below.

Community Care Grants Annual Average Initial Award (£)
YearGreat BritainCentral and East London

2000-01

338

N/A

2001-02

338

N/A

2002-03

342

N/A

2003-04

364

N/A

2004-05

390

499

2005-06

406

487

2006-07

420

491

2007-08

458

543

2008-09

442

547

2009-10

437

582

2010-11

466

630



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Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: The information requested is provided below.

Gross Expenditure by Applicant Group for Community Care Grants in Great Britain (£ millions)
Applicant GroupPensionersUnemployedDisabledLone ParentsOthers

2000-01

10.4

10.3

34.4

32.4

12.4

2001-02

10.1

10.0

36.9

33.2

12.3

2002-03

10.0

11.6

39.1

35.0

12.3

2003-04

11.3

12.6

41.5

38.6

13.5

2004-05

12.8

13.7

44.4

41.6

14.6

2005-06

13.7

15.2

46.9

45.8

15.4

2006-07

13.7

15.9

47.0

47.4

15.3

2007-08

13.8

15.3

47.8

47.5

14.6

2008-09

13.4

15.8

46.8

47.2

16.0

2009-10

12.5

20.9

46.2

44.2

14.9

2010-11

11.7

24.1

42.8

42.2

18.1

Gross Expenditure by Applicant Group for Community Care Grants in Great Britain (percentage of total amount)
Applicant GroupPensionersUnemployedDisabledLone ParentsOthers

2000-01

10.4

10.3

34.4

32.4

12.5

2001-02

9.9

9.7

36.0

32.4

12.0

2002-03

9.3

10.8

36.2

32.4

11.4

2003-04

9.6

10.7

35.4

32.9

11.5

2004-05

10.0

10.8

34.9

32.7

11.5

2005-06

10.0

11.1

34.3

33.4

11.2

2006-07

9.8

11.4

33.7

34.0

11.0

2007-08

9.9

11.0

34.4

34.2

10.5

2008-09

9.7

11.3

33.6

33.9

11.5

2009-10

9.0

15.1

33.3

31.9

10.8

2010-11

8.4

17.4

30.8

30.4

13.0

Transport: Sleep Apnoea

Questions

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

Earl Attlee: Those who drive goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles are already subject to a medical examination when they apply for a driving licence at the age of 45 and every five years thereafter until 65 when an examination is required every year.

The reporting doctor must record whether there is a history of or evidence of sleep apnoea.



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There are no plans to implement additional screening measures of large goods vehicle and passenger carrying vehicle drivers for sleep apnoea.

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

Earl Attlee: There are no plans to change the current arrangements for ensuring that those who drive large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles meet the appropriate health standards.

Those who drive large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles undergo a medical examination and report on application, at the age of 45 and every five years thereafter until 65 when an examination is required every year.

Since the rule 43 report from coroner Christopher Sumner, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has made changes to the medical report and accompanying notes to make doctors consider more carefully whether sleep apnoea may be present. The reporting doctor must record whether there is a history of or evidence of sleep apnoea.

All drivers diagnosed with sleep apnoea at any time are required by law to notify the DVLA.

Transport: Trams

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The report, Green Light for Light Rail, published on 20 September 2011 following a review into how to reduce costs commissioned by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker, recommends not only consideration of standardisation of tram vehicles but a more standard and uniform core design to take advantage of lower cost specifications for all infrastructure elements associated with a light rail system.

The report also found that one of the main reasons for high construction costs for light rail systems is related to works to divert or remove utility apparatus. The department will shortly be seeking views from key parties from both the utility and light rail sector to explore in more detail the options for avoiding the diversion of utilities as well as the case for reforms where diversions do need to take place. The report highlights a number of key questions which we hope will be addressed through this work.



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Universal Credit

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): It is DWP's strategy to run our businesses efficiently, digitalising services and processes wherever possible. This is what most of our customers tell us that they want and it provides better value for the taxpayer. The plans to deliver universal credit are set out in the White Paper Universal Credit: Welfare that Works, which is available online. This is part of the Government's overall approach to revolutionising service delivery by making digital the default option for the provision of all government services. DWP is working closely with the Government Digital Service (GDS), which will co-ordinate and oversee the work of government online.

The new universal credit will be digital by default and will be administered primarily using a modern online service to take claims, address inquiries and enable the notification of changes. The new item system will significantly streamline the current administration process and significantly improve the end-to-end claimant experience.

We recognise that there will continue to be a minority of claimants who cannot use online services in their dealings with universal credit. For those claimants we will offer alternative access routes, predominantly by phone but also face to face or by post for those who really need it.

It is too early to give detailed costings and volumes of claimant contact via (a) post, (b) telephone (c) online and (d) in person. Nevertheless, such considerations have been factored into our planning, and the delivery of universal credit in 2013 will be informed by detailed plans.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



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Lord Freud: Universal credit is expected to be introduced in October 2013, and individuals will be migrated to the universal credit over the subsequent four years. Claimants will be given the appropriate support to help them move on to universal credit, within appropriate timescales.

It is too early to be able to say with any detail which documents claimants will need to post or to be verified, but maximising service quality and efficiency is at the heart of our design for universal credit. That means we need to minimise the amount of paper that the system is dependent upon, and we are therefore working with relevant experts to identify the best options for verification in the development of universal credit.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Freud: Universal credit is expected to be introduced in October 2013, and individuals will be migrated to universal credit over the subsequent four years. It is too early in the system development process to detail the turn around time for new applications to universal credit.

Nevertheless, maximising service efficiency lies at the heart of our modern, multichannel business delivery proposals for universal credit. Most claimants will contact and transact with us through digital channels, claiming and managing their business with us online, supported by smaller, expert face-to-face and telephony channels offering redesigned, streamlined products and services. This more automated system will help DWP delivery universal credit more efficiently.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



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Lord Freud: Whether or not a claimant is a micro-employer is not at issue in determining eligibility for universal credit. As set out in the Welfare Reform Bill, eligibility is determined by a claimant's personal circumstances, including their financial position. In the specific case of claimants who use direct payments to employ a carer, it is not envisaged that the direct payment would be taken into account in the assessment of the claimant's income, where that payment is made to meet an additional need the claimant has.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): I can confirm that the impact assessment on reform of the student system was drawn up in the standard format and that therefore the net figure is based on the calculable costs, benefits and impacts to the economy, including the impact of students no longer working. The Migration Advisory Committee is currently reviewing the assumptions made about the replacement of international students who were working by non-migrant workers.

The impact assessment was approved by Ministers in the normal way.


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