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21 Nov 2011 : Column WA173



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA173

Written Answers

Monday 21 November 2011

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Although the Home Office has awarded the contract for face-to-face interpreting services to thebigword, the UK Border Agency is not using the contract for the provision of interpreter services for asylum interviews. The UK Border Agency will review this position in the next financial year and will continue to monitor the quality of the interpretation service that it provides to asylum seekers.

Interpreters for asylum and immigration tribunals are booked by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). New arrangements for the provision of interpreters and translators services to HMCTS are to be introduced soon under a Ministry of Justice framework agreement.

Bahrain

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware that many people remain in prison following protests in Bahrain earlier this year. We urge the Bahraini authorities to deal with these cases quickly and in a fair and transparent manner.

His Majesty King Hamad established the Independent Commission of Inquiry to look into human rights abuse during the unrest; this is likely to include examining allegations of the mistreatment of protestors. The commission is due to publish its findings on 23 November. We urge the Government of Bahrain to respond positively with effective implementation of reforms.



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Bank of England

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury Ministers or officials have not received copies of minutes of any meeting of the Court of the Bank of England since May 2010.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: Her Majesty's Government ensure that the Court of the Bank of England is effective through a robust appointment process for members of the court and through maintaining close contact with the Governor of the Bank and with the chairman of the court. The court is accountable to Parliament through the Treasury Select Committee, which has recently published the findings of its inquiry into the accountability of the Bank of England. The Government will consider the report carefully and respond in due course.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: Court conducts periodic board effectiveness reviews. The performance of the governor and deputy governors is assessed by the Committee of Non-Executive Directors.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: Her Majesty's Government have no plans to commission an independent review of the Bank of England's record on forecasting for economic growth or an audit of the Bank of England's processes.



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Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In the final declaration of the G20 Cannes summit, members endorsed the Financial Stability Board's (FSB) comprehensive policy framework which included a new international standard for resolution regimes.1 This included requirements for recovery and resolution planning (RRPs), together with the development of other resolution tools2 such as bail-in.

Members further agreed to:

implement the FSB standards and recommendations within the agreed timelines, with the FSB carrying out an iterative series of peer review assessments of implementation, the first thematic peer review beginning by end 2012. Additionally, the FSB Peer Review Council will, by 2013, undertake an initial review of whether the global systemically important financial institution (G-SIFI) requirements, including relating to RRPs and institution-specific co-operation agreements, have been implemented in an effective manner;3commit to undertake the necessary legislative changes;step up co-operation among authorities; andstrengthen supervisory mandates and powers.

Under the agreement, UK-incorporated G-SIFIs will be expected to have in place a recovery and resolution plan containing all of the elements set out in annexe III of the FSB's Key Attributes of Effective Resolution Regimes for Financial Institutions paper.4 We look forward to the EU Commission's proposals on bank recovery and resolution and their coherency with the FSB's resolution recommendations.

UK authorities (the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and HM Treasury) have already conducted a pilot project on RRPs involving the six largest UK banks. In August 2011, the FSA published a consultation paper, setting out the proposed requirements for RRPs that will apply to all UK banks, building societies and certain large investment firms. This consultation closed on 9 November 2011.

1 See page 6 of the Cannes Summit Final Declaration: http://www.g20.org/Documents2011/11/Cannes% 20Declaration%204%20November%/0202011.pdf

2 See page 1 of the FSB's Policy Measures to Address Systemically Important Financial Institutions: http://www. financialstabilityboard.org/publications/r_111104bb.pdf

3 See page 9 of the FSB's Overview of Progress in the Implementation of the G20 Recommendations for Strengthening Financial Stability: http://www.financialstabilityboard.org/publications/r_111104gg.pdf

4 See page 5 of the FSB's Key Attributes paper: http://www. financialstabilityboard.org/publications/r_111104cc.pdf.



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Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: MF Global UK entered special administration on 31 October 2011. It is too soon to comment on the implications of this administration for the client funds regime.

Any future reassessment of the arrangements for segregating client funds would be a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which has recently established a client asset specialist unit to help ensure the UK regulatory regime delivers adequate protection of client funds.

The Government maintain a regular dialogue with the FSA on these matters.

Banking: Cheques

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have issued no instructions to the banks to reduce cheque clearing times. The Government do not intervene in the day-to-day running of the banks, in which they have an interest.

The Payments Council has tasked the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company with examining how to streamline the cheque clearing process, and to achieve efficiencies.

Banking: Iceland

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In November 2008, following the Financial Services Authority's announcement that the UK branch of Landsbanki was in default, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) began payouts to UK depositors with Icesave. The FSCS made payments of approximately £4.5 billion to UK depositors in Icesave. These payments were made up of three different tranches:

£2.3 billion for deposit balances up to €20,887 (£16,872) which should have been paid by the Icelandic Depositors and Investor Guarantee Fund (DIGF);£1.4 billion for deposit balances above £16,872 and below £50,000, for which the FSCS is liable; and£0.8 billion for deposit balances above £50,000, for which HM Treasury is liable.

We expect full recovery of the £2.3 billion for which Iceland is liable. The FSCS will levy the financial services industry for any shortfall in recoveries of the £1.4 billion, for which the FSCS is liable.

Recoveries on the £0.8 billion payment for deposit balances above £50,000 will be determined by the returns from the Landsbanki administration. HM Treasury does not have the power to levy the financial services industry for any shortfall between what may be recovered from the Landsbanki administration and the £0.8 billion owed to HM Treasury. HM Treasury will be liable for any shortfall.

The FSCS has a claim of approximately £4.5 billion in the Landsbanki estate. This includes Iceland's liability. Further information on the Landsbanki administration can be found via the following web link: http://www.lbi.is/.

Banking: Northern Rock

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government do not routinely value either Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) or Lloyds Banking Group (LBG). This information is already publicly available from a wide variety of sources.

The Government do, however, estimate the value of their shareholdings in these banks. The most recent official estimate of the value of the Government's shareholdings in RBS and LBG is contained in the Treasury's resource accounts for 2010-11, which show that the value of these holdings as at the end of March 2011 was £55.3 billion.



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The Office for Budget Responsibility also publishes an estimate of the expected net overall cost of the financial sector interventions, which includes details of the value of the Government's shareholdings in RBS and LBG. The next publication of this estimate will be on 29 November as part of its Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

The Chancellor announced the sale of Northern Rock plc today (17 November). A press notice can be found via the following web link: http://www.hm-treasury. gov.uk/press_129_11.htm.

The Government are satisfied that the sale of Northern Rock plc to Virgin Money generates the best value for the public purse and represents an important first step in returning state-owned banks to the private sector. Further, the sale to Virgin Money will create a new credible competitor in the UK retail banking sector and, in doing so, will increase choice for customers.

The deal is expected to complete on 1 January 2012, pending European Commission merger clearance and Financial Services Authority approval.

Banking: Royal Bank of Scotland

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's shareholding in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is managed on a commercial and arm's-length basis by UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI), a company which is wholly owned by the Government.

UKFI's overarching objective is to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder, with due regard to financial stability and acting in a way that promotes competition.

As the majority shareholder in RBS, the Government have made clear that they expect the bank to be a back-marker and not a market leader on bonuses.

UKFI engages with the bank as a shareholder to ensure that remuneration incentives are designed to promote long-term sustainable performance. UKFI also seeks to ensure that RBS is at the leading edge of implementing the updated Financial Services Authority (FSA) remuneration code. The Government are determined that taxpayers' investment in the banking system is recovered and, therefore, RBS must be able to attract and retain staff in order to protect and create value for the taxpayer. The Government believe that the remuneration policies strike the right balance.



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Banks: Lending

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As the Bank of England make clear, the Project Merlin data that it collects are not gathered under the Bank's Statistical Code of Practice. However, the governor stated that the Bank would perform a "light plausibility check" on the data.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The Merlin agreement states that, "the five banks have agreed to make available the appropriate capital and resources to support gross new lending to UK businesses, including the capacity noted above for UK small and medium sized businesses, of £190 billion, should sufficient demand materialise." However, these five banks have also "agreed to aim to foster more demand".

Merlin is a commitment in respect of the calendar year 2011. The Government will assess the banks' performance across the year.

Bats

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

Earl Attlee: The meeting between the Highways Agency and Natural England, also attended by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Welsh Government and Countryside Council for Wales took place on 10 November 2011. Constraint on public spending is, and will continue to be, a key consideration in decisions made on what mitigation is provided on agency projects.



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Broadcasting: Wireless Spectrum

Question

Asked by Lord Hall of Birkenhead

Baroness Rawlings: The matter raised is an operational one for the independent regulator, Ofcom, rather than Ministers. Accordingly, officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have spoken to Ofcom, which advises:

"We set out our decisions on future spectrum access for programme-making and special events (including wireless microphones and cameras) in a statement on 31 August 2010, available on our website at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/ bandmanager09/statement/statement310810.pdf".

Children: UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

Question

Asked by Baroness Massey of Darwen

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In a Written Ministerial Statement on 6 December 2010, the Government gave a commitment to "give due consideration to the UNCRC articles when making new policy and legislation". We are using the UN committee's 2008 concluding observations as a reference point for where we can make progress.

We are addressing many of the key areas of concern raised by the UN committee, for example:

following a detailed review last year, we have consulted on proposals to strengthen the role of the Children's Commissioner to promote and protect the rights of children in England in line with the UNCRC. The proposals will be implemented through legislative changes as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows;there have been significant reforms to the arrangements for children and families who have been unsuccessful in seeking asylum, prior to deportation-in particular the Government have said they will end the detention of children for immigration purposes and close Yarl's Wood detention centre;we are tackling the links between children's achievement in school and their background through a pupil premium so that resources and support reach the pupils who need them most;

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the Government are working with interested parties to address the issue of the commercialisation and sexualisation of children. This follows the independent review by Reg Bailey and his report Letting Children be Children which made a series of practical recommendations to businesses, broadcasters and regulators;we are introducing free early education for disadvantaged two year-olds, reforming Sure Start, recruiting 4,200 extra health visitors and have reviewed the early years foundation stage so that the very youngest children get the best start in life;we have accepted Professor Munro's recommendation to provide early help to families and children in order to prevent incidence of abuse and to ensure that children who have been abused receive appropriate support and protection;we are committed to improving outcomes for children in care and to improving the volume and timeliness of adoption;our Green Paper on special educational needs will lead to significant reforms in the education and health support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, including in respect of giving children a stronger voice in planning their support arrangements;the development of a positive for youth statement, to be published later this year, will begin to tackle the committee's concerns about the negative portrayal of young people in the media.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the Government's progress on the UNCRC recommendations but provides a snapshot of some recent achievements.

This year marks the halfway point between the UN Committee's concluding observations from 2008 and the Government's next report to the UN Committee due in 2014. It will not be possible to implement all of the UN Committee's recommendations, but we want to make further progress in ways that will bring about the greatest benefits for children. We will listen to views from the children's commissioner and organisations in the civil society in deciding on our next steps.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): DWP guidance does state that "The term chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is used to describe an illness that is

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characterised by physical and mental fatigue and fatigability"; however, this is referring to the symptoms associated with the condition and is not a reference to its aetiology or classification.

Community Relations and Equality Councils

Questions

Asked by Lord Boateng

Baroness Verma: The Government Equalities Office, as the sponsor body for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has regular discussions with the Commission on many aspects of government policy, including the economy and the impact of spending decisions on community relations and equality groups.

Asked by Lord Boateng

Baroness Verma: The Equality and Human Rights Commission operate at arm's length from government. Based on information provided by the commission, the following table shows the number of local community relations and equality councils funded by the commission in each of the past three years.

Government do not record the number of local community relations and equality councils that are grant funded by local authorities. This information is not held or collated centrally and grant payments to these bodies are a matter for local authorities.

YearNumber of organisations

2009-10

161

2010-11

134

2011-12

114

Credit Default Swaps

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The procedures to be followed by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association Determinations Committee, in determining whether a credit event has occurred, are industry standards. They are established by the members of the credit derivatives industry upon their own initiative. The procedures and all decisions of the Determinations Committee are publically available and open to scrutiny.

Credit Default Swaps can be used to reduce a firm's risk weighted assets when they are deemed to be effective protection against the underlying risks. There are specific criteria that set out what constitutes effective protection in the banking book. These are determined by the European capital requirements directive which the UK has implemented. Only when these criteria are met can Credit Default Swaps be relied upon to reduce risk weighted assets.

Crime: Anti-theft Devices

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Home Office is aware of the use of such products on war memorials although no assessment has been made.

The Home Office is keen to explore and promote the use of all effective crime prevention measures, including forensic property marking products, although the use of such products is the decision of the property owner.

More widely, the Forum for Innovation in Crime Prevention, working with Materials UK and wider materials and design communities, is actively involved in the search for technical solutions to help reduce crime.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Henley: The Home Office is keen to explore and promote the use of all effective crime prevention measures, including forensic property-marking products, although the use of such products is the decision of the property owner.

More widely, the Forum for Innovation in Crime Prevention, working with Materials UK and wider materials and design communities, is actively involved in the search for technical solutions to help reduce crime.



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Crime: Metal Theft

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Home Office believes that some scrap metal yards are a disposal route for stolen metal. Discussions are under way across government on whether legislative changes are needed to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 to tackle metal theft.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Henley: This information is not held centrally.

Asked by Lord Gardiner of Kimble

Lord Henley: The Home Office supports the wide-ranging plan being delivered by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) metal theft working group to tackle metal theft, including the theft from public buildings and memorials. Discussions are under way across government on whether legislative changes are needed to tackle metal theft.

Cyclists: Helmets

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Earl Attlee: We have no plans to make the wearing of cycle helmets compulsory.

Data Protection

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Payments Council's new service for switching bank accounts will maintain existing high

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levels of data protection for customers and will only be used for the purposes of account switching. The service, which will be in place by September 2013, will not involve any additional third parties, nor require any additional information from customers.

Egypt

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We regularly discuss our concerns about human rights issues in Egypt with the Egyptian authorities. We have repeatedly called on the Egyptian authorities to end the state of emergency. Both the Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the member for Witney (Mr Cameron) and the Foreign Secretary, my right honourable friend the member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) did so during their visits to Egypt in February and May, respectively. Most recently the Deputy Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the member for Sheffield Hallam (Mr Clegg) raised human rights issues with the Egyptian Prime Minister during his visit to Egypt on 20 October.

On 7 October the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) issued a statement expressing our serious concerns about the treatment of Maikel Nabil Sanad, an Egyptian blogger sentenced to three years imprisonment in April by an Egyptian military court. He also stated the British Government's view that freedom of expression, including freedom of the media and the ability for citizens to debate issues and challenge their Governments, is fundamental to building a democratic society. The Deputy Prime Minister also raised this case during his October visit. Mr Burt's statement also highlighted our concern about the trials of civilians in military courts and the Foreign Secretary raised this issue when he visited Egypt in May.

Mr Burt raised our concerns about new Egyptian laws to outlaw protests and strikes with the Egyptian Finance Minister in March. The Egyptian authorities have indicated that they will reform labour law.

Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The decision to halt the GRNOPCI trial was made by the sponsoring company on commercial grounds and not based on any concerns related to the safety or efficacy of the stem cell product being tested in the trial. There are no implications for the trial under way at Moorfields Eye Hospital testing embryonic stem cells in Stargardt's Disease.

Eritrea

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

Lord Howell of Guildford: Our assessment of Eritrea's compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1907 mirrors the findings of the report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea published in July 2011. The Monitoring Group report describes apparent continued support to individuals linked to al-Shabaab and condemns Eritrea's alleged involvement in the bomb plot to disrupt the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. These allegations are extremely worrying. We welcome steps taken by Eritrea and Djibouti to resolve their border dispute, mediated by Qatar, and encourage talks to continue.

EU: Solvency II Directive

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Solvency II directive will introduce a new, risk-based standard for insurance regulation.

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has recently issued draft proposals regarding the European Commission's call for advice on technical options for applying elements of Solvency II capital requirements under the institutions for occupational retirement provision (IORP) directive.

Given the potentially serious effects this would have on UK defined benefit pension schemes, the Government will be considering the proposals carefully and pressing EIOPA to produce a full impact assessment for its proposals.



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EU: Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Commission has put forward a proposal to introduce a financial transaction tax under Article 113 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Proposals put forward under Article 113 require unanimity in the Council of Ministers, giving the UK Government a veto over any such proposal. The Government oppose a European financial transaction tax.

In addition, the Commission has put forward a proposal under Article 311 to use revenues from its proposed financial transaction tax to part-fund the EU budget. Article 311 also requires unanimity in the Council of Ministers, giving the UK Government a veto over any such proposal. The Government oppose any new taxes to fund the EU budget.

European Gendarmerie Force

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): There have been no European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) personnel deployed in the UK and the Government currently see no circumstances in which they would consent to an EGF operation in the UK. The EGF is a multinational initiative of six countries (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Romania) aimed at improving crisis management capability in sensitive areas and supporting peacekeeping missions around the world. The UK does not participate in this initiative.

Extradition: Gary McKinnon

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Professor Murphy's report is one of a number of reports that my right honourable friend, the Home Secretary, has received about Mr McKinnon. These are all being considered as part of her assessment as to whether extradition to the United States is consistent with Mr McKinnon's human rights.

Finance: Clearing Houses

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): London based LCH.Clearnet.Ltd and its Paris-based sister clearing house LCH.Clearnet SA are wholly owned subsidiaries of the holding company LCH.Clearnet Group Limited but they operate independently of each other.

LCH.Clearnet Ltd is a recognised clearing house and is lead regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Bank of England. The FSA supervises LCH.Clearnet Ltd, including its risk management policies and operations, on a close and continuous basis.

LCH.Clearnet SA is based in Paris. It is lead regulated by the French authorities but it also holds a recognised overseas clearing house (ROCH) license in the UK. As is intended under the ROCH regime, the FSA places reliance on the home state supervision of LCH.Clearnet SA for day-to-day regulation of this clearing house.

The FSA and Bank of England are members of the Joint Regulatory Authorities (JRA), the regulatory college for the LCH.Clearnet Group (which includes LCH.Clearnet Ltd and LCH.Clearnet SA).

The JRA meets regularly at operational and management levels and considers a wide range of areas of common interest for the participant authorities.

Finance: Equity Markets

Questions

Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The findings of the Kay review will be presented in its final report, due to be published in the summer of 2012. The Government will respond appropriately once the final report has been published.



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Asked by Lord Harrison

Baroness Wilcox: In June 2011, the Secretary of State for Business commissioned Professor John Kay to undertake an independent review to examine investment in UK equity markets and its impact on the long-term performance and governance of publicly traded UK companies. The review will consider a variety of issues, including investor oversight and shareholder engagement in listed companies, and will report in summer 2012.

Finance: Websites

Question

Asked by Baroness McDonagh

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Money Advice Service enhanced and rebranded its web offering prior to its launch in April 2011. This included consolidating its previous websites (the Consumer Financial Education Body website and the Money Made Clear website) on a single platform under the Money Advice Service brand. The Money Advice Service states that the new website includes enhanced features, resulting in improved user experience, accessibility, speed and search engine performance.

The Money Advice Service confirms that the total costs, including staffing costs, associated with enhancing its website were approximately £254,000 (excluding VAT).

Fishing

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Discards are a clear waste of natural resources, disruptive to marine ecosystems and ethically undesirable. The UK is seeking fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to minimise this wasteful practice, but we are also taking action now to cut discards and to gather the necessary evidence to reform the CFP.

The UK has run successful trials to test catch quota (CQ) management on North Sea cod in 2010, and extended these trials in 2011 to include Western Channel sole. CO is designed to measure quota uptake at point of capture rather than counting uptake by landings.

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Results to date are very positive. Initial findings from schemes run in England this year show only 0.25 per cent of total catches of prohibited species were discarded and overall catches of undersized fish of any species are low, indicating the effectiveness of selectivity measures. We are seeking to extend these trials in 2012, through negotiations with the European Commission and, in some instances, Norway, to test CO in mixed fisheries and in fisheries where discards are high.

We are also conducting a wide range of work to improve the selectivity of fishing gear, with the aim of getting fishermen to catch less unwanted fish in the first place. These include initiatives in the Irish Sea and the south-west (Project 50 per cent).

Following the Commission's proposals for reform of the CFP, from next year we will also aim to undertake discard ban trials to understand how a landing obligation can work in practice. These will be supported by studies on the survivability rates of certain species if they are discarded.

In addition, the UK's Fishing for the Market project was aimed at the market side of the industry and sought to increase consumer demand for underutilised, sustainable species that are often discarded. Defra is currently considering how recommendations can be taken forward in partnership with members of the seafood industry.

We are involving fishermen at every opportunity in work to cut discards. They are best placed to advise about what works in a fishery in practice as a one-size approach does not fit all.

Fuel Smuggling and Money Laundering

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On fuel smuggling, I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave him on 28 June 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 393).

Businesses that are at risk of being used by criminals to launder money are subject to the money laundering regulations, which require them to have policies and procedures in place to detect and deter money laundering and to report any suspicions to the Serious Organised Crime Agency. They are supervised for their compliance by one of the 28 supervising authorities. For businesses that are supervised by a public sector supervising authority, supervision normally involves registration, the provision of guidance supplemented by a programme of inspections and enforcement action against non-compliant businesses.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the supervisor of some of the highest risk businesses in Northern Ireland and is developing an intelligence-led and risk-based approach to ensuring effective compliance with the money laundering regulations.



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In addition, the Government undertook a thorough review of the money laundering regulations in 2009-10. While this concluded that they were broadly effective and proportionate, the Government have consulted on specific proposals to improve the regulations. These include increasing the powers available to HMRC to help it prevent non-compliant businesses from operating and to apply a robust fit and proper test for individuals seeking to run a high-risk business. Any changes will be announced in 2012.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: Following the Israeli air strikes on Gaza and the rocket attacks by Palestinian militant groups on Israel, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), issued the following statement on 29 October: "Today's escalation in violence is deeply unhelpful. We call for all sides to exercise restraint. We condemn any actions that target innocent civilians".

The UK condemns all such violence which represents both an unacceptable risk to innocent life and a real obstacle to ongoing direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Our policy on Hamas is clear: the quartet have set out clearly that Hamas must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements. Hamas must make credible movement towards these conditions, which remain the benchmark against which its intentions should be judged. The clear focus for now must be a return to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians as soon as possible.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: Since 2006 Hamas has been in effective control of Gaza. Hamas maintains the largest militia and benefits from profits from the illegal tunnel trade. Hamas therefore has significant influence over other militant groups and the onus is on it to prevent terrorist attacks in those areas where it exercises de facto authority.

Following the rocket attacks on southern Israel launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad on 26 October -1 November and the consequent international condemnation, we understand Hamas exerted efforts to persuade all militant groups to comply with a ceasefire, which has held since then.



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Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: Representatives from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will be visiting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office this week, when we expect the issue of the strike by schoolteachers in United Nations schools will be discussed.

We have not made recent representations to UNRWA on this issue.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): We understand that the shipment of GM mosquito eggs to Panama has been for contained use purposes only. We therefore do not hold any associated documentation or detail about the export.

Government Departments: E-mails

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Ministerial Code, the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers, and the Civil Service Code set out how Ministers, officials and special advisers within the Home Office should conduct government business.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



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Lord Henley: The Ministerial Code, the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers, and the Civil Service Code set out the standards of conduct that is expected of Ministers, officials and special advisers in the way that they conduct government business.

Government Departments: Risk Registers

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Treasury has in place robust processes for monitoring, managing and mitigating internal and external risks. Our risk management framework monitors economic, fiscal and operational risks centrally and ensures that these risks are discussed at the Treasury Board, its sub-committee and the Executive Management Board.

Health: End-of-life Care

Question

Asked by Lord Dubs

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government have confirmed their commitment to improving quality and choice in palliative and end-of-life care for all patients in the National Health Service White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS.

Advance care planning was highlighted as a key area within the end-of-life care strategy. We are committed to implementing the strategy.

The strategy sets out an end-of-life care pathway which begins with identifying people as they approach the end of life and then planning, with them and their family if possible, for their future care. This can include advance care planning as set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. These elements of the pathway have been highlighted in a specific end-of-life care workstream in the department's Quality, Productivity, Innovation and Prevention (QIPP) programme.

The department is also supporting the Dying Matters National Coalition, run through the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC). This aims to challenge the taboo about discussing death, dying and bereavement which can inhibit both the public and professionals from having the necessary conversations to allow for proper end-of-life care planning.



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA194

The third annual report on implementation of the end-of-life care strategy provides detail of progress along the entire end-of-life care pathway and can be found on the department's website at: www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_130239.

Health: Musculoskeletal Conditions

Questions

Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There have been no assessments carried out centrally. It is for local National Health Service organisations to decide how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health and to commission services accordingly. This process provides the means for addressing local needs within the health community including the provision of and access to physiotherapy services.

There have been number of initiatives to improve access to physiotherapy and other allied health professional (AHP) services. These include:

the self-referral to physiotherapy pilots which supported the findings from research in Scotland. The pilots identified a number of benefits including earlier presentation, lower levels of work absence and supporting self-care by empowering patients to be more actively involved in managing their condition. Information about this project can be found at: Self-referral Pilots to Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy and the Implications for Improving Access to other AHP Services:[email protected][email protected]/documents/digitalasset/dh_116358.pdf;information from AHP referral to treatment data collection will enable AHPs, including physiotherapists, to innovate to improve services. The Allied Health Professional Referral to Treatment guide can be found at: [email protected][email protected][email protected]/documents/digitalasset/dh_115297.pdf;the AHP Service Improvement Project which demonstrated in a range of services, including physiotherapy, how service redesign can improve access and clinical outcomes. Details about this project can be found at: www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/ Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_126840.

21 Nov 2011 : Column WA195

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Lack of mortgage availability for households without a large deposit (typically 20 per cent) remains a major barrier to home ownership even for creditworthy households in London.

This Government are committed to a return to economic stability through our plans for deficit reduction and economic growth. This will free up lending for aspiring home owners, keep mortgage rates low and improve credit availability. We held two first-time-buyer summits which have stimulated fresh thinking and partnerships between lenders and housebuilders. We are seeing more mortgages available to those with a 5 per cent or 10 per cent deposit and several sector-led innovative schemes to help first-time buyers have been announced by lenders and developers, with more in the pipeline.

Our shared ownership schemes, delivered under First Steps, help by enabling purchasers to buy a minimum 25 per cent share, with a smaller deposit and then increase their equity stake over time. We are also helping first-time buyers in London through our FirstBuy scheme.

The Localism Act will transfer responsibility for housing and regeneration activities from the Homes and Communities Agency in London, which manages the First Steps programme, to the Greater London Authority from April 2012.

Independent Commission on Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The remuneration was agreed by senior officials to compensate the chairman for loss of earnings as warden of All Souls College, Oxford.

Institutional Investors: Voting Records

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA196

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Section 1277 of the Companies Act 2006 provides a power to require the disclosure of information about the exercise of voting rights by, among others, institutional investors. We do not currently plan to bring this section into force. The Financial Reporting Council's Stewardship Code requires institutional investors to disclose their voting records.

Iraq: Camp Ashraf

Question

Asked by Lord Eden of Winton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK remains deeply concerned at the humanitarian situation at Camp Ashraf. We continue to urge the Government of Iraq and the leadership of Ashraf to engage in constructive negotiation to reach a peaceful and durable solution on the future of the residents of the camp. During his visit to Iraq in October, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) discussed Camp Ashraf with the Iraqi Foreign Minister and more recently met with the newly appointed European Union Special Envoy to Camp Ashraf, Jean De Ruyt. Along with our international partners, we continue to press the Iraqi Government to ensure that the residents of Camp Ashraf are treated in accordance with the rights and protections they enjoy under international human rights and domestic Iraqi law and to show flexibility over the end of year deadline to close the camp. But we are clear that the issue is one for the sovereign Government of Iraq and the leadership of Camp Ashraf to resolve, and that responsibility for a peaceful solution lies in their hands. The UK currently has no plans to raise Camp Ashraf at the United Nations Security Council.

Israel

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA197

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware that Mr Hassan Yusuf and his son were arrested on 1 November and have been sentenced to six months' administrative detention. This is the second time Mr Yousef has been arrested by the Israeli authorities. Our consulate-general in Jerusalem is monitoring this case.

We regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli Government about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees. We shall continue to raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities as appropriate.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: The issue of the Mughrabi ramp has been the subject of discussion at the Executive Board of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The UK was not a member of this board until last week, and we have not made specific representations to UNESCO directly.

On 26 October, the city engineer of Jerusalem announced that the Mughrabi ramp was no longer safe. A Jerusalem municipality spokesperson stated that the ramp should be "demolished and a permanent structure built on the site". The British Embassy in Tel Aviv has discussed the issue with the Israeli authorities and asked them to consult fully with relevant parties, including UNESCO, before any work on the bridge is carried out.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have regular dialogue with the Government of Israel on nuclear issues. We consistently call on Israel to agree a full scope comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have regular discussions with the Government of Israel on a wide range of nuclear issues. During these dialogues we have consistently encouraged Israel to sign up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA198

Justice: Pre-trial Detention

Question

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The deadline for responses to the European Commission's Green Paper on detention issues is 30 November. The European Commission will publish responses to the consultation, including the UK response, on its website shortly after that date.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Boateng

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, however these did not consider the effects of the reforms on advisory services provided by community relations and equality councils.

Magna Carta

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The commemorations and events to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta are being co-ordinated by the Magna Carta Trust, an organisation independent of government. I am keeping in contact with the trust about their plans, but I would suggest that the noble Lord contacts the trust direct with any detailed questions that he has.



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA199

Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): There is no timescale in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 for implementation of the coastal route, but we will introduce the new right of coastal access on a 30-kilometre stretch of the English coast between Portland and Lulworth Cove in Dorset in time for the Olympic and Paralympic sailing events, which begin in July 2012. Natural England is also currently working on proposals to implement coastal access in a further five areas around the coast, as we announced in October 2010. When proposals for the coastal route have been prepared in each of the five areas, Natural England will start a period of local consultation.

Natural England has estimated that the costs to deliver coastal access at Weymouth and in the five lead areas where it has started work will be £34,000, £40,000 and £165,000 in the years 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively.

Money Advice Service

Question

Asked by Baroness McDonagh

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The independent Thoresen Review in 2008 estimated demand for a national Money Advice Service, which led to principles behind the service. An evaluation of the pilot, including consumer demand, is available on the Money Advice Service's website: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

The Money Advice Service became nationwide in April 2011 and launched an integrated marketing campaign in June 2011. The service has so far received over 2.7 million visits to its website and over 270,000 visits to the online health check, meaning it is on course to meet its target of achieving 500,000 health check visits by the end of the financial year.

This year, the Money Advice Service has reviewed its products, services and delivery channels, including conducting further analysis and research into consumer demand. It is now seeking to improve what it offers to consumers, making sure that it delivers more to more people. It will continue to offer everyone access to the

21 Nov 2011 : Column WA200

service online, by telephone, or face-to-face through a national network. These plans include appropriate resources for marketing and promotion to raise awareness of the service and drive usage of its products and services.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Question

Asked by Lord Naseby

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) develops guidance for the National Health Service on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of medicines and other health technologies through its technology appraisal programme.

NICE is an independent body and is responsible for developing its own technology appraisal processes and methods, in consultation with stakeholders.

NICE is currently reviewing its Guide to the Methods of Technology Appraisal and further information on the review process is available at: www.nice.org.uk.

NICE last published an updated guide to the methods of technology appraisal in 2008.

NHS: Delayed Transfers

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): No one should be made to stay in hospital longer than is necessary. The National Health Service and social care must work together to ensure people have the support they need on leaving hospital. Some patients need particular support after a spell in hospital to settle back into their homes, recover their strength and regain their independence. The Government have increased the level of investment made available to local health and care services to spend on front line services and helping people return to their homes after a spell in hospital.

While it is recognised that the delays for over-75s is a large proportion of the total, the aim should be reducing the number of delays for all ages. Latest

21 Nov 2011 : Column WA201

figures showed that 76 per cent of acute delays were for over-75s and 23 per cent of admissions were for over-75s.

The spending review recognised the importance of social care in protecting the most vulnerable in society. In recognition of the pressures on the social care system in a challenging local government settlement, the Government have allocated an additional £2 billion by 2014-15 to support the delivery of social care and help protect people's access to services upon discharge.

As part of this funding, an allocation of £150 million has been made available this year for reablement and £648 million for social care spend that benefits the NHS which could help to reduce the level of delayed discharges. The reablement money will help people to leave hospital more quickly, get settled back at home with the support they need, and to prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital. Local authorities are responsible for decisions on how to allocate their resources.

The data from the NHS are collected with the aim of helping commissioners to commission the most effective and appropriate services for their local population and to help service users to make informed decisions. The department frequently reviews the data collected to ensure it meets this aim and will continue to do so.

Organophosphates

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The independent Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) published a report on organophosphate pesticides in 1999.

The COT decided to review all relevant scientific literature published since the 1999 report.



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA202

This review will cover psychiatric, neuropsychological and peripheral neuropathy outcomes as well as evidence for autonomic dysfunction. These are the primary areas of toxicological research undertaken with organophosphates.

The Health Protection Agency advises that the potential toxicological effects on the heart, respiratory system and mitochondrial function should be identified from the standard package of toxicological tests required under European Union legislation for the active ingredients of pesticides, including organophosphates.

Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Northover: The total amount spent by the Department for International Development on projects and programmes in 2010-11 amounted to £7,476 million. The amount of loss identified in 2010-11 amounted to £1.19 million of which £1.085 million was fully recovered. This amounts to 0.02 per cent of total expenditure.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Northover: Since 2006 DFID have published in the departmental annual report tables of all projects halted during a financial year. The table below identifies all programmes stopped due to issues of corruption:



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA203



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA204

CountryProgrammeIssueConsequenceYear

Uganda

Uganda: Joint Budget Support Operation

Inaction against corruption found in official report on CHOGM 2007

£5 million withheld and corrective actions reassessed at subsequent Poverty Reduction Budget Support (PRBS) review (Nov 2010). Decision taken not to reinstate £5 million as budget support but to reallocate to other programmes

2010-11

Kenya

Kenya Education Sector Support (KESSP)

Fraud discovered in September 2009 by Government of Kenya Internal Audit Department

Resulted in £10 million not being disbursed to KESSP and the withdrawal of DFID funding through government systems

2009-10

Malawi

Poverty Reduction Budget Support

Purchase of Presidential plane

Planned PRBS of £22 million reduced to£19 million (equivalent to annual cost of plane over next 5 years).

2009-10

Malawi

Support to Parliament

Concerns about misuse of funds, exposed by audit(Feb 2009)

£300,000 in funds remaining on project (out of £800,000) suspended pending full investigation into use of other funds. Requested return of funds spent outside agreed terms of MOU

2009-10

Uganda

PRBS-General Budget Support (GBS)

Lack of progress on high level corruption

Withholding of £2.5 million in 2009-10

2009-10

Zambia

PRBS II

Embezzlement of funds in the Ministry of Health

£11 million of DFID's total PRBS of£31.5 million in 2009 due to be paid in May was delayed due to uncovering serious embezzlement of funds. £9 million was subsequently released in July 2009. The remaining £2 million was released in Oct 2009 after agreed actions were carried out.

2009-10

Tanzania

PRBS

Variable tranche withheld due to poor provision of results information and weak action on corruption allegations

Variable tranche of £11.5 million withheld-notice given in April 2008 for 2008-09 financial year (Jun-July)

2008-09

Sierra Leone

PRBS

One-third of budget support was dependent on government performance against agreed indicators. Government failed to meet some indicators on anti-corruption and financial management

Budget support was reduced from£15 million to £12.5 million.

2006-07

Vietnam

Vietnam Rural Transport 2 project

Alleged corruption involving the project Management Unit in the Ministry of Transport

The remaining £1.4 million for the project was suspended, pending a full investigation. The money was paid in October 2006 following government investigations and efforts to strengthen anti-corruption.

2006-07

Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our consulate-general in Jerusalem is making inquiries with regards to the case mentioned, and I will write to the noble Lord when I have more information.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As set out in the command paper Public Service Pensions; Good Pensions that Last, the Government's offer is conditional on the trade unions and the Government reaching agreement on the reforms by the end of the year.

The line "Net public service pension payments" in table 4.15 of the Office for Budget Responsibility's Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2011 shows forecast net expenditure on public service pensions to 2015-16.

Changes proposed in the command paper will only affect expenditure on public service pensions in the medium and long term. The paper set out the Government's objective that those public service workers who, as of 1 April 2012, have 10 years or less to their current pension age, will see no change in when they can retire, nor any decrease in the amount of pension they receive at their current normal pension age. Schemes and unions will discuss the fairest way of achieving this objective, within the Government's parameter that costs to the taxpayer in each and every year do not exceed the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts for public service pensions.

People Trafficking

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): If there is sufficient evidence against an individual within a company, that s/he knowingly employed and exploited trafficked victims, those individuals can be prosecuted for offences of human trafficking or conspiracy to commit trafficking offences. The maximum penalty is 14 years' imprisonment, a fine, or both. Furthermore, if there is evidence that a company has profited from the employment of trafficked individuals, there can be consideration of offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to seize any profits they have made.

If a company in a Gangmasters Licensing Authority-regulated sector has knowingly employed illegal migrants who are victims of trafficking, their licence can be

21 Nov 2011 : Column WA205

revoked under Gangmasters Licensing legislation. They could also be issued with fines by the UK Border Agency of up to £10,000.

The Gang masters Licensing Act 2004 also creates offences for persons who enter into arrangements under which a gangmaster supplies him/her with workers or services while not under the authority of a licence. The sanction which applies here is a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding 51 weeks, or a fine, or both.

Sanctions for illegal activities including human trafficking can also be imposed on companies by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by taxing the income, profits, and gains from human trafficking.

Piracy

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The United Kingdom is under no obligation to accept asylum claims from individuals on board Royal Navy ships. Accordingly, there is no specific obligation to convey any such asylum seeker back to the United Kingdom.

Police: National Computer

Questions

Asked by Baroness Byford

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The police national computer (PNC) is still operated and managed by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA). As the NPIA is phased out next year, a study to assess the future options for service delivery is currently under way.

Asked by Baroness Byford



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA206

Lord Henley: Access to police national computer by non-police organisations is governed by the PNC Information Access Panel (PIAP), whose membership is comprised of the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Police Authorities, the Home Office, and the National Policing Improvement Agency.

Organisations/bodies with full access to the police national computer:

1.

All territorial police forces of Great Britain

2.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)

3.

British Transport Police (BTP)

4.

Civil Nuclear Constabulary

5.

Isle of Man Constabulary

6.

States of Jersey Police

7.

States of Guernsey Police Service

8.

National Identification Service (NIS)

9.

Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)

10.

Ministry of Defence Police (MDP)

11.

HM Revenue & Customs

12.

The Security Service

13.

Secret Intelligence Service

14.

Government Communications Headquarters

15.

Defence Intelligence Staff

16.

Department for Work and Pensions

17.

Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency

18.

Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

Other organisations have restricted access. These include HM Court Service, Probation Service, the Royal Military Police (Names file only), Royal Air Force Police (Names file only), Royal Navy Police (Names file only), and Royal Marines Police (Names file only).

The Police Information Access Panel has defined the following organisations as non-police and has agreed that authorised users within these organisations can have Names file-only access commensurate with their previously stated and agreed business needs.



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA207

1.

Access Northern Ireland

2.

Charity Commission for England and Wales

3.

Criminal Cases Review Commission

4.

Criminal Records Bureau

5.

Defence Vetting Agency

6.

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

7.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

8.

Department for Transport

9.

Department for Work and Pensions

10.

Disclosure Scotland

11.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

12.

Environment Agency

13.

Financial Services Authority

14.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

15.

Gangmasters Licensing Authority

16.

G4S

17.

Health and Safety Executive

18.

Highways Agency

19.

Her Majesty's Prison Service

20.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs

21.

Home Office

22.

Independent Police Complaints Commission

23.

States of Jersey Customs and Immigration Service

24.

Mersey Tunnels Police

25.

Ministry of Justice

26.

National Air Traffic Service

27.

National Health Service

28.

Office for Civil Nuclear Security

29.

Office of Fair Trading

30.

Royal Mail

31.

United Kingdom Border Agency

32.

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency

Post Offices

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government support the expansion of the range of products and services at all post offices, including community post offices, wherever this is commercially and operationally possible. However, decisions on the introduction of specific additional products and services are for Post Office Ltd and its clients.

Asked by Lord Myners

Baroness Wilcox: The Government support the expansion of accessible and affordable financial services and products, including banking products, through post offices. However, decisions on the introduction of specific additional products and services are commercial and operational matters for Post Office Ltd.

Prisons: Staff

Question

Asked by Baroness Quin

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Of the 79 staff employed at HMP Latchmere House on 13 July 2011, the date of the closure announcement, 58 have been redeployed to existing vacancies within the National Offender Management Service.

Questions for Written Answer

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA208

Baroness Rawlings: I refer the noble Lord to the answer that I gave him on 2 November 2011 (Official Report, col. 274). There is no zero-rate VAT for the construction of memorials. However, the cost of VAT incurred by charities and faith groups in the construction, renovation and maintenance of memorials, can be reclaimed through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's memorial grant scheme, subject to the claims meeting the published eligibility criteria. From 2011-12 onwards, the memorial grant scheme has a fixed annual budget of approximately £0.5 million.

Asked by Lord Laird

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): Figures detailing the number of Lords QWAs that each government department answers in each month are not held centrally.

Rome: British Embassies

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The two embassies in Rome are accredited to different sovereign states. There are approximately 110 staff in the British Embassy to Italy and approximately 10 staff in the British Embassy to the Holy See (these figures include UK-based civil servants and staff employed locally; for operational and security reasons, we cannot provide a more detailed breakdown). The embassy to Italy focuses on the bilateral relationship with Italy-including economic and commercial relations. The embassy to the Holy See focuses on a wide range of bilateral and global issues, including our co-operation on issues that impact on Britain's prosperity such as climate change and international development.

Scrap Metal

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Henley: Discussions are under way across government on whether legislative changes are needed to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 to tackle metal theft.



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA209

Smoking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government have no plans to stop smoking around the entrances of public buildings through legislation. However, as set out in the Tobacco Control Plan for England, published in March 2011, it is up to local authorities and National Health Service organisations who may wish to make non-enclosed parts of their properties smoke-free.

We are not aware of any evidence which quantifies the level of exposure to second-hand smoke around entrances to public buildings.

A copy of the Tobacco Control Plan for England has already been placed in the Library.

Surveillance: Telecommunications

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We take any reports of exports being misused overseas seriously, but as the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) reported in his Statement to the House of Commons of 18 July, there was no evidence of controlled military goods exported from the United Kingdom being used for internal repression in the Middle East and North Africa. This remains the case.

Surveillance equipment, including telephone intercept equipment, covers a wide variety of equipment and software, and generally is not controlled because of its use for a wide variety of legitimate uses and its easy and widespread availability. If an item is subject to control, the licence application is considered on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated European Union and UK Export Licensing Criteria, in light of prevailing circumstances and paying particular attention to allegations of human rights abuses. The UK will not issue licences where we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used to facilitate internal repression.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The UK Government National Technical Authority for Information Assurance provides technical advice to BIS on whether information security products are subject to export controls. In this capacity, on 31 March 2009 officials from this authority had a meeting with Creativity Software to consider products that the company wished to export.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Wilcox: The UK's export control regime does not generally control such software and equipment in view of the legitimate commercial applications for which it can be used. We therefore have no information on what non-controlled equipment has been sold to these countries.

Meetings with companies to discuss a range of export control issues are held on a regular basis with government representatives including on whether they require an export licence.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Wilcox: Surveillance technology is not intrinsically controlled under the UK export control regime as there are a number of legitimate commercial applications for which it can be used. We therefore have no information on what has been sold to the Government of Yemen by Creativity Software.

There has been no export licences issued to Creativity Software to Yemen, Iran or Syria over the past five years.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



21 Nov 2011 : Column WA211

Baroness Wilcox: No record has been found of the Government introducing Detica to the previous Government of Tunisia.

Surveillance technology is not intrinsically controlled under the UK export control regime as there are a number of legitimate commercial applications for which it can be used. Detica does not, under the UK export control regime as it stands, need permission to export this kind of equipment. Because no permission is required, the Government therefore have no information on what has been sold to the Government of Tunisia by Detica. The Government keep the export control regime under review on this and other issues, with regard to whether the law should be changed to require permission to be sought in future.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend, the member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has called on the Syrian regime to lift the siege of Homs and allow in international aid and relief efforts, to withdraw all Syrian forces from the towns and cities of Syria. We have condemned the violent repression of the Syrian people and called for an immediate end to the killing.

On 9 November, in a Statement to the House of Commons my right honourable friend made clear that the British Government will continue to work to intensify pressure on President Assad and his regime.

On 14 October, we reinforced European Union (EU) measures to include sanctions against the Commercial Bank of Syria, the largest in the country. On 14 November, the EU listed a further 18 individuals involved in or supporting the regime's activities and put in place measures to prevent any further disbursement of loans from the European Investment Bank to Syria. EU sanctions, including an embargo on imports of oil from Syria into the EU, are already restricting sources of finance to the regime.

Taxation: Avoidance

Question

Asked by Lord Jacobs

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The latest tax gap estimates were published in September 2011 in Measuring Tax Gaps 2011 on HMRC's website at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/mtg-2011.pdf.



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