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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I refer the noble Lord to the answer given by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Philip Hammond) in the other place on 14 November 2011 (Official Report, Commons, col. 572), to the honourable Member for Bromsgrove (Mr Javid).
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any direct payments for the BBC World News television service; and what assessment they have made of the level of coverage the service gave to the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Perth.[HL13286]
Baroness Rawlings: The Government have not made any direct payments for the BBC World News television service. No assessment has been made of the level of coverage the service gave to the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Perth.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the response by the United Kingdom representative at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination meeting in Geneva to the discussion on caste on 24 August.[HL13421]
Baroness Verma: The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination raised the issue of caste during the course of its examination of the United Kingdom on 23 and 24 August this year. The United Nations has not published a transcript of the proceedings but, in its reply to the committee, the UK delegation explained that the Equality Act 2010 includes a power which, if exercised by Ministers, would make caste an aspect of race for the purposes of domestic discrimination legislation. The delegation noted that the committee had received a number of reports and had heard presentations from organisations which strongly support the exercise of this power. However, the delegation also advised the committee
23 Nov 2011 : Column WA240
The delegation told the committee that the report had been completed in December 2010 and Ministers have since been considering the report carefully, together with a number of representations they have received both in favour of legislation and opposing it, but have not yet made a final decision on this.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): We share farmers' concern about the potential risks of sky lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns). We are continuing to work with other departments and the agricultural industry to address them.
Our current approach is to raise public awareness of the potential dangers posed by sky lanterns (and to focus on voluntary action with the aim of influencing consumer behaviour. My right honourable friend the Minister for Agriculture and Food (Jim Paice) wrote to the British Hospitality Association in the summer to advise its membership of hotels, restaurants and other venues of the problems they cause, principally the harm to livestock and litter and to ask that they discourage customers from using these lanterns. Defra also issued a press release earlier this month for bonfire night to warn people of the harm sky lanterns can cause.
We are also pursuing other voluntary options and working closely with the National Farmers' Union and the Women's Farming Union as they gather the evidence necessary to justify any potential future ban. These two organisations are doing a sterling job in raising awareness of the risks posed by sky lanterns and urging support for local farmers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Jones v Kernott, whether they will introduce legislation on the rights and duties of cohabiting couples. [HL13407]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As stated in our Written Ministerial Statement on 6 September 2011, the Government do not believe there is a sufficient basis for a change in the law on cohabitation at this time. Therefore, we do not intend to take forward reform of cohabitation law in this parliamentary term.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The process to reform the common fisheries policy began in 2009 with publication of the European Commission's Green Paper. Since then, the UK Government have been working closely with the Commission, European institutions, member states, the industry and others to build support for genuine, radical reform.
Following publication in July of the Commission's proposals for reform, formal negotiations are now under way, with discussion most recently in the November Fisheries Council. We expect talks to continue for the next 12 to 18 months. The Government will continue to press for major reform and, now that the proposals are being considered by the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries-my honourable friend the Member for Newbury (Mr Benyon)-will plan to meet MEPs as well as continuing to discuss the reforms with fellow Fisheries Ministers, the Commission, colleagues from devolved Administrations and the fishing industry and other key interests. We have welcomed the Commission's proposals as a good start, but the UK will continue to work hard to improve the proposals, to deliver the reforms we need.
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Welsh Government have received a £38.9 million increase to their departmental expenditure limit in 2011-12. As is the usual practice, it will be for the Welsh Government to decide how to use this additional funding.
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The budget for the life of the Commission on Devolution in Wales is around £1 million, funded from existing budgets. The commissioners are unpaid. However, the Wales Office is reimbursing expenses incurred as a result of their work on the commission.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in view of the recent information tribunal ruling, whether they still consider the Duchy of Cornwall to be a private estate; and if the Duchy is now a public authority, what are the consequences.[HL13337]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate, the funds from which are used to support the public, charitable and private activities of the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The Duchy is reviewing the First-tier Tribunal's reasons for its decision under the environmental information regulations, with a view to establishing whether it would be appropriate to appeal the ruling. Until then, it would be premature for HM Government to attempt to examine the potential consequences of the ruling.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston: Ofgem monitors and publishes information about the disconnection of domestic gas and electricity supplies (in its social obligations annual reports). Although the disconnection data are not published for each month, the Domestic Suppliers' Social Obligations: 2010 Annual Report (www.ofgem.gov.uk/sustainability) provides annual data for the number of disconnections relating to debt undertaken by each supplier for 2006-10. The tables below show the number of disconnections due to debt for electricity and gas supplies by each of the big six suppliers.
|Disconnection of electricity supplies|
|Disconnection of gas supplies|
Existing supply licence obligations and an industry code of practice provide protection for consumers in debt; for example, suppliers must not disconnect a domestic premises during October to March if they know or have reason to believe that the customer is of pensionable age and lives alone, or only lives with other pensioners or children under the age of 18.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The UK uses a number of administrative and judicial procedures to comply with the Aarhus Convention, in relation to environmental nuisance and similar cases. These include: reporting potential breaches of environmental legislation to the appropriate regulators; making a complaint to the local authority regarding a statutory nuisance; submitting a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman; instituting criminal proceedings under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act; pressing relevant authorities to initiate criminal proceedings under various environmental legislative acts; and bringing a claim in the civil courts for private or public nuisance for breach of specific statutory provisions, or a claim for negligence. In addition, the Government are a strong supporter of alternative dispute resolution and have introduced initiatives to encourage and promote its use in all civil disputes.
The Government have published the Aarhus Convention implementation report, which was subject to an informal two-month public consultation on the draft version. This is available at: http://archive.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/aarhus/101015-aarhus-condoc.pdf.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Luxembourg compromise is a convention that the Council will not force through an act by qualified majority vote against the will of a member state which believes its vital national interests to be at stake. The Council statement, which dates back to 1966 and enshrines the compromise, states:
"Where, in the case of decisions which may be taken by majority vote on a proposal of the Commission, very important interests of one or more partners are at stake, the Members of the Council will endeavour, within a reasonable time, to reach solutions which can be adopted by all the Members of the Council while respecting their mutual interest and those of the Community, in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty".
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Luxembourg compromise, which is a political convention, may be invoked by a member state to request the Council to delay voting on the adoption of a European Union measure which is subject to qualified majority voting where it believes its vital national interests to be at stake.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with European Union member states on establishing an effective framework to deter the misuse of European technologies involved in human rights violations and to prevent the resale of American technologies, on which an export embargo has been placed, via secondary companies based in Europe. [HL13297]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Regular discussions are held between member states on Council Regulation (EC) 1236/2005 (known as the torture regulation) that controls trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The re-export from the European Union of all controlled military goods and technologies irrespective of their origin would require an export licence and be subject to Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing the control of exports of military technology and equipment that includes the consideration of human rights violations. For dual-use items covered by Council Regulation (EC) 428/2009, exports to third countries irrespective of their origin would generally require an export licence that would also be judged against the common position. This regulation does allow the free movement of items covered by the regulation to other member states in most circumstances. The obligation to meet USA re-export conditions would be the responsibility of the companies concerned. Enforcement of those controls would be the responsibility of the USA Government.
Baroness Wilcox: The Government take their export responsibilities very seriously, and operate one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world. This regime applies to military and dual-use goods which have been designated by one of the international export control regimes. The system is designed to prevent the export of goods which could be used for undesirable end use, including internal repression and external aggression. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are already a mandatory criterion for all export licence decisions.
Export licence applications are already considered on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and UK Export Licensing Criteria, in the light of prevailing circumstances and paying particular attention to allegations of human right 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.
Council Regulation (EC) 1236/2005 (known as the torture regulation) is also in operation and this controls trade in certain goods which could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): We support the Commission's ambition to deliver a more rational and economically efficient fleet, and to manage quota rights so that fishermen are able to plan for the long term. That does not mean, however, that the common fisheries policy should impose the same system for all. Member states must be able: to make their own decisions on the allocation of quota and trading of it within their own fleets, and to provide safeguards, for example to take account of the particular needs of small-scale fishing. It is also important that member states can manage their own fleets and fishing rights in line with relative stability of shares of joint stocks. We will therefore work with other member states to improve these proposals, in the interests of UK fisheries.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 3 November (WA 287-8), whether the United Kingdom's high commissioner in Delhi and ambassador in Beijing will now raise the issues of sex-selective abortion, female infanticide and male infanticide in India and China respectively. [HL13267]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Further to the Answer given on 3 November, the Government condemn all instances of sex-selective abortion and infanticide. Our high commissioner in Delhi and ambassador in Beijing will look for suitable opportunities to raise this matter with the Indian and Chinese Governments.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 3 November (WA 287), whether the United Kingdom representative to the United Nations has raised the issue of gendercide affecting (a) female, and (b) male babies in 2011 to date.[HL13268]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Further to the Answer given on 3 November, the Government condemn all instances of sex-selective abortion and infanticide. Our permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) has not raised specific concerns this year, but we will continue to emphasise this in relevant UN discussions.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our ambassador attends functions in Northern Ireland on occasion, in particular for events or activities reflecting the UK's relations with the Republic of Ireland.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Overall, the Government are investing £4.5 billion in the provision of new affordable housing over the four years of the spending review, 2011-15, which we expect to deliver up to 170,000 new affordable homes for affordable rent and affordable home ownership. This is more than the 150,000 originally estimated and means the Government will be able to deliver more homes for every pound of taxpayer subsidy.
The Government are also investing £2.1 billion to improve the quality of housing through the decent homes programme and large-scale voluntary transfer gap funding. This will be used to help bring over 200,000 homes up to at least the decent homes standard.
The department has set out its thinking on the future of social housing in the housing strategy which
23 Nov 2011 : Column WA248
To ask Her Majesty's Government which developments have been supported with Homes and Communities Agency funding in (a) the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and (b) the London Borough of Islington, within the current spending review period; what was the level of grant in each instance; and how many (1) social rented homes, (2) affordable rented homes, and (3) low cost home ownership units are being delivered with such funding within each scheme.[HL13461]
Baroness Hanham: The Homes and Communities Agency remains in contract negotiations with registered providers on delivery of the affordable homes programme so the total allocations may increase as further final contractual offers are agreed. Details about homes to be delivered and funding through the affordable homes programme by local authority area are not yet available and the tables below cover more than one London borough.
The Homes and Communities Agency has information on schemes in the North East London area, which includes the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, as shown below, based on the providers who have agreed their final contractual offers.
|North East London area|
|Lead Provider||Offer Name||Estimate No. Affordable Rent Homes||Estimate No. Affordable Home Ownership homes||£m|
|North West London area|
|Lead Provider||Offer Name||Estimate No. Affordable Rent Homes||Estimate No. Affordable Home Ownership homes||£m|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish in draft the proposed qualified one-way cost shifting regulations to be made under Clause 25 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill and any related rules of court. [HL13325]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the qualified one-way cost shifting regulations will involve assessment of a losing claimant's ability to pay at the end of a case; and if so, whether they have conducted a cost-benefit analysis of such a provision, including in relation to court time and the complexity and confidentiality of individuals' financial affairs. [HL13326]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to a regime offering a presumption of unqualified one-way cost shifting, capable of being displaced in advance for good reason by an opponent and with the court otherwise able to apply sanctions for misconduct; and what were the conclusions of any such consideration. [HL13327]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether recovery of "after the event" insurance premiums from losing parties in litigation is being abolished other than for clinical negligence cases, or whether this will only happen once qualified one-way cost shifting rules apply to such cases.[HL13328]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, if "after the event" premiums will not be recoverable in any type of claim except clinical negligence cases, how claimants who do not have "before the event" insurance, cannot afford "after the event" premiums and otherwise cannot afford the risk of losing a claim will obtain access to justice in other types of claim; and why qualified one-way cost shifting is not being applied to such claims (other than personal injury claims).[HL13329]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, given the requirements of European Union law to ensure certainty in relation to costs before commencing litigation, they are proposing a difference in domestic law cases; and if so, why.[HL13330]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, if "after the event" insurance premiums are to be irrecoverable, how claimants will fund own-side experts' fees to ensure access to justice; and whether they have given consideration to experts being permitted to work on a conditional fee basis.[HL13367]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are implementing recommendations contained in Lord Justice Jackson's review of civil litigation costs, which includes a fundamental reform of no-win no-fee conditional fee agreements (CFAs). This reform is being taken forward in Part 2 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill. Some of the recommendations do not require primary legislation and will be taken forward in changes to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) (Clause 25 of the Bill concerns legal aid and is not relevant to this issue).
The recoverability of CFA success fees and "after the event" (ATE) insurance premiums will be abolished on all cases, except for the ATE premium in respect of expert reports in clinical negligence cases. It is intended that the relevant primary and secondary legislation and the relevant CPR changes will be implemented at the same time.
In response to Questions 13326 and 13327, the Government are introducing a regime of qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS) through the CPR. The department has been working with the Civil Justice
23 Nov 2011 : Column WA253
In answer to Questions 13328 and 13329, QOCS will only be available for personal injury claims (including clinical negligence). The availability of QOCS in these cases is intended as an alternative to taking out "after the event" (ATE) insurance. If claimants wish to take out ATE insurance they will pay the premium themselves. Although Lord Justice Jackson suggested that QOCS might be considered for use in some non-personal injury claims, the Government are not persuaded that the case for this has been made at this stage. The Government will examine the effect of QOCS in personal injury claims before considering whether it should be extended further.
Another benefit for claimants is that the general damages for non-pecuniary loss such as pain, suffering and loss of amenity will be increased by 10 per cent. Incentives to settle early will be improved, which will mean access to justice at proportionate costs overall.
In response to Question 13367, own-side expert reports in CFA cases will be funded as in other cases. However, particular concerns have been raised about clinical negligence cases. The Bill includes a tightly drawn power to allow the recoverability of ATE insurance premiums in clinical negligence cases only. In addition, we are discussing with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), the NHS Litigation Authority and other stakeholders how the commissioning of expert reports in clinical negligence cases can be improved.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will deploy diplomatic efforts to prevent any dilution of provisions of the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Landmines and the 2008 Oslo Treaty on Cluster Munitions in any future United Nations convention; and whether they will explore the possibility of securing an international ban on the manufacture of both types of weapons, to include weapons yet to be developed.[HL13319]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is committed to ridding the world of all cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines. We are a state party to both the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM or Oslo) and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa) which ban states parties from manufacturing cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines. Promoting the universalisation of both conventions is paramount to globalising the ban on the manufacture of these munitions
23 Nov 2011 : Column WA254
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the International Olympic Committee to have England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales recognised as separate nations for the purposes of participation in the Olympic Games from 2012 onwards.[HL13426]
Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Government have made no representations to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales recognised as separate nations for the purposes of participation in the Olympic Games from 2012 onwards. Recognition of national Olympic committees is purely a matter for the IOC, and under its charter, it recognises the British Olympic Association as the Olympic committee for the UK.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the football associations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland concerning the implications of participating in the Team GB Olympic football team on the future rights of the teams of the four nations of the United Kingdom to participate in international football competitions. [HL13425]
The English Football Association is the designated national governing body for Olympic football within the National Olympic Committee, where it represents the interests of the football associations from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In March of this year, FIFA reassured the national associations that their team's international status would not be affected by their players potentially appearing for a Great Britain Olympic football team.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland met with the Omagh Support and Self Help Group (OSSHG) last September. He also met with family members who are against the establishment of a public inquiry. The Secretary of State has made it clear to all the families that he is open to receiving any representations from them on the issue. The OSSHG has recently advised the Secretary of State that it wishes to submit further representations on this matter and has asked him to refrain from making any decision on the issue until these have been received.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what administrative or other assistance they are providing, either by way of access to records or provision of personnel, to Sir Desmond de Silva QC to assist him in conducting his examination of records in the Patrick Finucane case.[HL13254]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: As set out in the review's terms of reference, Sir Desmond de Silva will have full access to the Stevens archive and all government papers, including any Ministry of Defence, Security Service, Home Office, Cabinet Office or Northern Ireland Office files that he believes are relevant. Sir Desmond is supported by a small team of staff for his work on the Finucane review, which includes staff seconded from the Civil Service. My department will assist him as required.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why public sector schemes do not have to pay into the Pension Protection Fund; how many pension schemes are members of the fund; and which occupational pension schemes are or have been the subject of the fund's compensation.[HL13341]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Some public sector pension schemes do not have to pay the pension protection levy because they are not eligible to receive compensation from the Pension Protection Fund. These include unfunded public service pension schemes with no requirement for assets to be set aside in advance and with payments of pensions that are underwritten by Government, a public sector pension scheme that guarantees the benefits of its members by legislation and schemes which a Minister of the Crown has given a Crown guarantee or made other arrangements to secure that assets will be sufficient to meet the liabilities. The overall rationale is that schemes which are protected by provisions such as Crown guarantees do not need to pay for further protection by the PPF.
As at 31 October 2011, the PPF estimated that 6,533 ongoing pension schemes were protected by the PPF. Three hundred and fifty occupational schemes had transferred into the Pension Protection Fund and are listed on its website at: http://www.pensionprotectionfund.org.uk/TransferredSchemes/pages/Transferred-Schemes.aspx.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): In the past two years 21 pirates in total have been transferred to other states by the Royal Navy for prosecution. In April 2010, six suspected pirates were transferred to the Kenyan authorities and they are currently on trial for piracy; a further 15 suspected pirates were transferred to Italian authorities for prosecution in October 2011.
In addition between April 2010 and 11 November 2011, a total of 60 further suspected pirates were encountered during boarding operations. Following detailed analysis of all physical evidence and witness statements, these suspects were released as it was assessed that a successful prosecution was unlikely. The subsequent destruction of any pirate equipment and weapons found serves as a disruption measure and prevents their future use. Prior to April 2010, information on the number of individuals encountered who were suspected pirates was not held centrally.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 17 October (WA 29), whether they will require the Mayor of London to publish details of the number of residents from Fish Island who (a) responded to, and (b) supported, his proposal to designate their homes as falling within the boundary of the proposed Mayoral Development Corporation for the purposes of planning applications before giving consent to the inclusion of this part of Tower Hamlets. [HL13457]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Localism Act has just received Royal Assent. Under the Act, the mayor is required to consult with and respond to various statutory consultees. Among those consultees, there are two groups who, if they object to the mayor's proposals and the mayor disagrees, have the right to have their comments responded
23 Nov 2011 : Column WA257
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the report of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons on HM Prison Aylesbury about the use of force by staff, what action they are taking to ensure records on the use of force are complete and regularly scrutinised.[HL13277]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what response they have made to the finding by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons that in adjudications at HM Prison Aylesbury there is "insufficient exploration of circumstances and evidence before a finding of guilt".[HL13280]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): All use of force paperwork is scrutinised by the Control and Restraint Committee to ensure it completely complies with Prison Service orders and standards. Any incident resulting in the use of control and restraint which is captured on the prison's CCTV system is downloaded and reviewed to ensure compliance.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Strathclyde on 9 November (WA 62) concerning answers to Questions for Written Answer, what are the criteria used to determine appropriate occasions for the Government to refer to websites in those answers.[HL13380]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): Decisions as to whether to refer to websites in answers are taken on the basis of how readily available the information is and the form that the information takes. For example, it may not be desirable to include very long and detailed tables within an answer to a Question for Written Answer. Ultimately however, the Guide to Parliamentary Work, produced by the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons, does specify that "it may not be appropriate to simply give the web address in the answer ... departments should be helpful to MPs and peers, particularly where the fact or figure requested is contained in a much larger set of information".
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Strathclyde on 9 November (WA 62), whether they will ensure that when acronyms are used in answers the full name is used at least once as an aid to those who are dyslexic or have other reading difficulties.[HL13381]
Lord Strathclyde: Answers to Questions for Written Answers should be readily comprehensible. I have asked my office to remind colleagues in other government departments that care should be taken to spell out the meaning of any acronyms used.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department has made £2.7 billion of capital allocations in 2011-12 on top of expected payments of up to £1.9 billion this year for BSF and academies legacy projects. Our priorities are to address the school buildings in the very worst condition and provide new school places in areas that are experiencing severe demographic pressures.
On 3 November, the Secretary of State announced additional allocations, totalling £500 million, to those local authorities which are experiencing the greatest pressure on school places, secured through savings elsewhere across the capital programme.
We have also announced the establishment of a new, privately-financed programme of school building (the Priority School Building Programme) which will address between 100 and 300 of the schools in the worst condition-depending on the mix of applicants.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they provide to local authorities about the provision of subsidies for school transport for young people attending faith schools; and what assessment they have made of the equality implications of local authorities withdrawing such subsidies.[HL13225]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to provide support for school transport for young people, regardless of whether they attend faith schools, whose journey is greater than three miles.[HL13226]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): For children of compulsory school age, local authorities are provided with Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance. Authorities must provide free transport for children to the nearest school that is further than the statutory walking distances of two miles for pupils below the age of eight and three miles for those aged eight and over. There is additional help for pupils aged 11 to 16, from low-income families, attending a school on the grounds of religion or belief between two and 15 miles from home. Transport to a school outside these arrangements is at the discretion of the local authority.
Equality legislation places a duty on authorities not to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief; however the provisions do not apply in relation to the provision of transport, although authorities need to be aware of their obligations under human rights legislation.
The £180 million bursary fund for 16 to 19 year-olds introduced in September 2011 allows schools and colleges to target support to students' individual needs. Individual transport costs can be met by the fund, where the costs are a barrier to participation. Following appropriate consultation, local authorities are under a duty to publish a statement each year, setting out travel arrangements they consider necessary to enable young people to attend post-16 education.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the submission of competitive climbing as a potential Olympic sport from 2020, they will consider providing support funding for elite athletes in this discipline through UK Sport.[HL13275]
Baroness Garden of Frognal: UK Sport's funding is focused on current Olympic and Paralympic sports. UK Sport will consider providing funding to climbing if the outcome of the sport's submission to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for inclusion in the 2020 Games is positive.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 10 November (WA 95) concerning their recognition of countries, when the Vatican City was so recognised. [HL13383]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The 1929 Lateran treaty between Italy and Holy See established the Vatican City State as the area of Rome constituting the territorial extent of the temporal sovereignty of the Holy See. Formal diplomatic links between the Crown and the Holy See were first established in 1479. However, they were interrupted in the 16th century, and only restored in 1914 and raised to full ambassadorial status in 1982.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the recent statement by the Roman Catholic bishops of Sudan about the current violence and the risks of renewed conflict in both Sudan and South Sudan.[HL13397]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We welcome the statement by the Roman Catholic bishops of Sudan and South Sudan. We welcome the role of the churches in the two countries in promoting peaceful dialogue and reconciliation. We share the concern of the bishops at the ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile State, Abyei and Darfur. We urge the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (North) to allow immediate and full humanitarian access to all areas and to negotiate for a lasting settlement and peace. We also urge the Governments in Sudan and South Sudan to negotiate seriously in addressing their outstanding areas of difference, through the good offices of the African Union.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have about the frequency of visits by British engineers and technicians to Iran; and what is the value of service contracts between British companies and Iran.[HL13295]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government keep records of neither the visits made by British engineers and technicians to Iran nor the value of service contracts.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how their criticism of regimes which seek to manipulate or intercept social networking sites, text messaging or electronic communications relates to the role of British companies selling such surveillance equipment to the same regimes, with the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government.[HL13351]
The Government are committed to supporting freedom of expression on the internet and continue to encourage states that restrict access to the internet to uphold their international human rights commitments. One of the seven principles set out by the Foreign Secretary for the London cyber conference was "the need for
23 Nov 2011 : Column WA262
Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Office for National Statistics, in its annual publication Travel Trends presents the main annual results from the International Passenger Survey (IPS), which collects information from passengers as they enter or leave the UK by the principal air, sea and tunnel routes (pg 45).
The 2010 publication is available at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ott/travel-trends/2010/index.html.
|Section 2: Overseas residents' visits to the UK 2006 to 2010||Travel Trends 2010|
|2.07||Number of visits to UK: by mode of travel and purpose of visit 2006 to 2010|
|Visits (thousands)||Change 2009-10||Growth 2009-10||Average Annual Growth 2006-10|
|Section 2: Overseas residents' visits to the UK 2006 to 2010||Travel Trends 2010|
|2.08||Number of visits to UK: by mode of travel and quarter of the year 2006 to 2010|
|Quarter||Air||per cent change from year earlier||Sea||per cent change from year earlier||Tunnel||per cent change from year earlier|
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