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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 22 November (WA 219-20), how the accuracy of the lateral flow device for the detection of foot and mouth disease virus compares with the accuracy of clinical diagnosis.[HL13676]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): While a positive result from a lateral flow device will confirm a positive suspicion of foot and mouth disease (FMD), a negative result cannot be relied on to confirm absence of disease.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There were 130 military personnel stationed in Bahrain in March 2011, the majority in the UK Maritime Component Command.
These numbers did not vary significantly between February and March 2011. The precise number of personnel fluctuates on a daily basis for a variety of reasons including mid-tour rest and recuperation, temporary absence for duty elsewhere or training, evacuation for medical reasons, the roulement of forces, visits and a range of other factors.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether consideration has been given to the awarding of a Diamond Jubilee Medal to members of the Armed Forces who served during Her Majesty's reign but are no longer in service.[HL13664]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal will be awarded to serving and volunteer members of the Armed Forces and the emergency services to commemorate the 60th anniversary of her accession on 6 February 2012. As is the tradition with Jubilee Medals, it is a commemorative medal. Therefore, it has a commemorative purpose and, in keeping with similar medals, is given to those who are actually in service on the day of the anniversary and who have completed a stipulated period of service across government in the uniformed services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why it is possible to send items up to two kilograms by post to United Kingdom forces serving in Afghanistan without charge but the same provision is not made for postage from troops to United Kingdom civilian addresses.[HL13752]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Armed Forces personnel deployed on specified operations, including in Afghanistan, and on board ships supporting those operations, benefit from the enduring free mail service (EFMS), a joint venture between the British Forces' Post Office (BFPO) and the Royal Mail. The EFMS is part of the deployed welfare package provided to such personnel and enables friends and family members to send packages from the UK weighing up to 2 kilograms free of charge.
There is not generally a need for Armed Forces personnel on operations regularly to send packages home, so the deployed welfare package does not offer a free mail service from operational locations to the UK. Should service personnel wish to send a package to the UK, forces' post offices are available in deployed locations. Domestic UK postage rates, rather than standard international postage rates, would apply.
Service personnel serving overseas in a non-operational capacity can receive mail sent at domestic internal UK mail postal rates through their forces' post office, which also allows them to send mail to the UK at domestic postage rates.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Projects which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has supported and funded in Armenia in the past two years to promote the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Armenia are:
These projects increase domestic support and advocacy for the Armenian and Turkish Governments to restore diplomatic relations and open their borders. They support the development of human rights and democracy in Armenia through strengthening the independent media.
Thanks to projects we have funded, long-lasting partnerships develop, for example the Armenian Golden Apricot Film Festival welcomes films from Turkey, and crews of Armenian-Turkish filmmakers produce joint documentaries.
Our projects are funded through the FCO's bilateral programme budget. Following a call for bids, our embassy project team assesses proposals and selects projects based on the quality of the proposals.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 17 November (WA 179), what is the nature of a "light plausibility check" carried out by the Bank of England on the
7 Dec 2011 : Column WA158
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to introduce a successor scheme to Project Merlin to come into effect on the expiration of Project Merlin; and whether there have been discussions with United Kingdom banks about such a successor scheme.[HL13840]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It is encouraging that the banks have loaned over £157 billion to UK businesses so far this year. While they have loaned 10 per cent more to small and medium-sized enterprises than they did at this point last year, the banks must do more to meet their commitment for the full year.
The current Project Merlin agreement finishes at the end of 2011. Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 29 June 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 422), which sets out the United Kingdom's financial relationship with the European Central Bank in detail.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the powers of the General Council of the European Central Bank; and what representations the United Kingdom has made by virtue of membership of the council on actions to help resolve the eurozone crisis.[HL13671]
Lord Sassoon: The responsibilities of the General Council of the European Central Bank are set out under Article 46 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank. Matters related to resolving the problems faced by the euro area are discussed by the General Council, of which the Governor of the Bank of England is a member, as well as by other international institutions and fora.
Ministers and officials have discussions with a wide variety of international partners as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government or the Bank of England's practice to provide details of all such discussions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government on how many occasions in each of the past five years there has been an overpayment of benefit (1) caused by actions of the Department for Work and Pensions and in which the department has accepted full responsibility, and (2) due to the actions of claimants.[HL13845]
|Overpayments:||2006-07 (k)||2007-08 (k)||2008-09 (k)||2009-10 (k)||2010-11 (k)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government on how many occasions in each of the last five years the Department for Work and Pensions (1) has identified an overpayment of benefit, and (2) has decided not to pursue reclaiming an overpayment of benefit. [HL13846]
|Volume of New Overpayments identified in Financial Years:|
|Overpayments||2006-07 (k)||2007-08 (k)||2008-09 (k)||2009-10 (k)||2010-11 (k)|
|Volume of Overpayments where recovery has not been pursued from the outset:|
|Overpayments||2006-07 (k)||2007-08 (k)||2008-09 (k)||2009-10 (k)||2010-11 (k)|
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: British missions (embassies and high commissions) themselves are not accredited but the heads of mission, ambassadors and high commissioners are. Some embassies and high commissions will be responsible for countries where there is no British representation. A number of heads of mission hold the title of Her Majesty's non-resident ambassador/high commissioner. A full list is provided.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to Ofcom that the Code on Electronic Programme Guides should give greater guaranteed prominence to public service broadcasters and United Kingdom children's programmes.[HL13601]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what would be the cost to the Government of the cap on lifetime care costs proposed in the report of the Commission
7 Dec 2011 : Column WA164
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): As the noble Lord will be aware, the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support set out detailed costings in its evidence and analysis report, and these included costs for different levels of the cap.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): No plans currently exist to directly encourage companies to pay out higher dividends. These are commercial decisions to be made by individual companies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken on implementing in the United Kingdom the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and what steps they have taken or will be taking to inform disabled people of the effects for them of that action. [HL13799]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government submitted the first United Kingdom report on implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the United Nations on 24 November 2011. The report details the action taken on implementing the convention, and the progress we have achieved.
A wide range of disabled people and their organisations were involved in the production of the report and received copies of it on publication. It is publicly available on the Independent Living and Office for Disability Issues website: http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/.
On 1 December 2011 we published the disability strategy discussion document, Fulfilling Potential. This document is the first step of involving disabled people,
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 23 November (WA 242) concerning the Duchy of Cornwall, what they meant by a "private estate" in that Answer. [HL13916]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The department is holding an industry day on 16 December to provide further information on the CCS programme, to which this Government have already committed £1 billion of capital funding.
Sponsors and developers of proposed CCS projects, power generators, CO2 transport infrastructure providers, oil and gas field operators and independent operators, and CO2 capture technology providers are invited to contact the Office of Carbon Capture and Storage if they wish to attend.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what level of government expenditure was allocated to improving energy efficiency in domestic properties and creating warmer homes in each of the past 10 years; and how much has been allocated in each of the next three years.[HL13986]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Warm Front is a key part of policies aimed at tackling fuel
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The Warm Front scheme provides grants to eligible applicants for specified heating and insulation measures up to the value of £3,500, with a larger grant of £6,000 available to those off the main gas grid.
From 2013, support for heating and insulation for the most vulnerable will be delivered through the Green Deal for energy efficiency and a new supplier obligation on energy companies. The Green Deal will be the key policy to improve household energy efficiency. It will help protect people against price rises through greater energy saving, with special support for the most vulnerable. The new energy company obligation, starting at the end of 2012, will run in parallel with the Green Deal programme. It is intended to focus particularly on households that cannot achieve financial savings without additional support, including the poorest and most vulnerable and those in hard to treat homes.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We estimate that, based on the number of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations by the end of October 2011, at least 8,000-gross full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs have been supported by solar PV since the introduction of the feed-in tariffs (FITs) scheme. The total number of people doing some solar PV work is likely to be higher than this because those who are involved in solar PV installations are also likely to undertake other tasks linked to their employment.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We estimate that the return to the standard rates of winter fuel payment will mean an estimated 25,000 fewer households will be removed from fuel poverty in England.
We expect the new mandatory Warm Home discount scheme to assist around 2 million low-income and vulnerable households a year, including over 600,000 of the poorest pensioners who will receive an automatic rebate of £120 on their electricity bill this winter.
In addition, the cold weather plan, a cross-government initiative designed to help keep people warm and healthy throughout the cold winter months, has allocated additional funding to help vulnerable people. An extra £10 million is available to support existing government schemes for those at risk of fuel poverty and a new £20 million fund is created for local authorities and charities to address cold housing.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will inform Parliament about the United Kingdom's involvement in the European Commission's €1 billion flagship programme in Future and Emerging Technologies.[HL13859]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will submit Explanatory Memoranda for annual reports on research and technological development activities in the EU. BIS will also submit Explanatory Memoranda for evaluations (interim and ex post) of the Seventh Framework Programme for RTD (FP7) and Horizon 2020, the two programmes from which funding for flagships will or is expected to be drawn.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 15 November (WA 130), whether they are advised when a case against the United Kingdom is lodged
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is not routinely informed when every application is lodged against it with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Registration of an application with the court does not mean that it will be deemed admissible, successful on its merits or even communicated to the UK for a formal response. For example, where inadmissibility is clear from the outset, a single judge formation will declare the application inadmissible. The UK generally becomes aware of an application made against it when it is formally communicated by the court, ie the application is sent to the UK and we are invited to submit observations in response on its admissibility or its admissibility and merits.
|Year||Number of applications originating in the UK|
Facts and figures regarding applications made against the UK are accessible on the Court's website: www.echr.coe.int. Publicly accessible information is not suitable for deposit in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of the correspondence between the British Ambassador to the Council of Europe and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2009 and 2010 on the United Kingdom's impending chairmanship of the Council of Europe that relate to possible changes to the rules and procedures of the European Court of Human Rights and the convention itself. [HL13702]
Lord Howell of Guildford: There is no correspondence from 2009 and 2010 between our permanent representative to the Council of Europe and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the United Kingdom's impending chairmanship of the Council of Europe that relates specifically to possible changes to the rules and procedures of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to take action to address the further tightening of credit conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises, as noted in the Bank of England agents' summary of business conditions report for November 2011.[HL13782]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): At the autumn Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the launch of a package of credit-easing measures to help improve the flow of credit to businesses. The national loan guarantee scheme will lead to reductions in the cost of bank loans for businesses with turnover of up to £50 million. The scheme will allow banks to raise up to £20 billion of funding with a government guarantee to lend directly to smaller businesses at a lower cost.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Food Standards Agency is doubling its charges for meat hygiene inspectors, given the European Commission study showing that United Kingdom abattoir operators currently pay more per head for meat inspections than operators in other European Union member states.[HL13731]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the current abattoir charges for meat hygiene inspections in the United Kingdom compare to those in each of the other European Union member states; and what are the figures compared.[HL13732]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is proposing to increase charges for meat hygiene inspections, but the percentage increase varies considerably for individual plants. An impact assessment has been completed which has been submitted to the Regulatory Policy Committee for consideration.
The Study on Fees or Charges Collected by the Member States to Cover the Costs Occasioned by Official Controls was issued in 2008. Since that time the method of charging in the United Kingdom has been changed. The FSA has committed to assess the charges in other member states and benchmark these with those in the UK. It is anticipated that this assessment will be completed by the end of 2012.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK frequently raises with the Israeli authorities the issue of easing restrictions on Gaza, urging Israel to comply with her international obligations. Most recently, this was raised at ministerial level during the visit to the UK by Israeli Defence Minister Barak on 3 November 2011. Fishing limits off the coast of Gaza are part of the core messages we and European Union partners raise with the Israeli authorities.
Gaza continues to have serious development challenges. There has been no fundamental change in the crossings regime and economic stagnation (although Israel's decision to move from a list of 120 permitted goods to a list of specific prohibited items was a positive step). We are clear that more needs to be done, including on easing restrictions on exports, construction material imports, the movement of people and an increase to fishing zones.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford of 23 November (HL13268), what is the next relevant United Nations discussion at which this issue can be raised.[HL13717]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Further to the answer given on 23 November, our permanent representative to the United Nations, our high commissioner in Delhi and our ambassador in Beijing will assess carefully suitable opportunities to raise concerns about sex-selective abortion and infanticide in a way that is most likely to be effective.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford of 23 November (HL13267), when will be the next suitable opportunity that this matter can be raised with the Indian and Chinese Governments. [HL13718]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Further to the Answer given on 23 November, our high commissioner in Delhi and our ambassador in Beijing will carefully assess suitable opportunities to raise concerns about sex-selective abortion and infanticide, in a way that is most likely to be effective.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education has installed a 123-panel solar photovoltaic system at its premises in 2 St Paul's Place, Sheffield. This currently generates approximately 18,000 kilowatts of electricity per annum.
Sanctuary Buildings in Central London does not have sufficient roof space for a solar photovoltaic system, but we have installed a solar thermal system, which provides hot water for the toilets and shower facilities within the building.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department owns no buildings of its own; they are all leased to it under a PFI contract with Telereal Trillium, which is due to expire in 2018.
Telereal Trillium undertook feasibility studies on a number of buildings at the request of the department's Sustainability and Climate Change Team, the outcome of which was that Telereal Trillium decided solar photovoltaic systems were not currently commercially viable. The decision is, of course, subject to review and may be revised should the economics change.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The feasibility of low-carbon energy generation has been considered in the past for HM Treasury's 1 Horse Guards Road building, but the practical limitations of adapting a grade 2* listed building currently preclude this from being taken forward on planning and cost grounds.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the (1) date of purchase, (2) amount, (3) supplier and (4) level 3 or enhanced transaction entry of each
7 Dec 2011 : Column WA172
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information requested is contained in the document entitled Information on the Number of Government Procurement Cards used by the Department of Health since May 2008 and the Date, Value and Supplier for each Transaction, a copy of which has already been placed in the Library. It also contains information for financial year 2010-11; and level 3 transaction information, which is available only for financial year 2010-11.
The information is not available prior to May 2008 because this is when the department's reporting database tool used to extract the information was set up. Attempting to provide information prior to May 2008 would mean sifting through individual cardholder paper files and extracting the information manually, which would incur disproportionate costs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 28 November (WA 21), whether the new registration scheme agreed with the Government of the Republic of Ireland on determining European Union healthcare costs of state pensioners will allow for the mutual sharing of dates of death of registered pensioners.[HL13995]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The scheme will allow for the mutual sharing of dates of death of registered pensioners in order to ensure that only appropriate payments are made.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Lyme Unit at the Health Protection Agency has always been fully compliant with all aspects of the Data Protection Act 1998, particularly with respect to retention of patient information, using patient information for purposes for which it was not originally intended and passing patient information to third parties without consent from the patient.[HL13893]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I am informed that the Health Protection Agency and its Lyme Borreliosis Reference Laboratory complies with all aspects of the Data Protection Act 1998.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the statement on the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency website that their decisions
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Earl Howe: We are advised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) that manufacturers of in vitro diagnostic devices such as the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test should ensure they conform to the safety, quality and performance requirements of the European Commission In Vitro Diagnostic Devices Directive before they CE mark their products and place them on the European Union and United Kingdom market. This involves setting out their performance characteristics for the test and being able to demonstrate that it performs to the accuracy level claimed for it. The MHRA has a mainly post-market surveillance and enforcement role under the directive and would investigate any problems with the use of such a test that comes to its attention. Depending upon the results of any such investigation, the MHRA has a range of legal powers open to it that include removing the device from the UK market.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision there will be through the proposed Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care Scheme for Assured Voluntary Regulators for the regulation of European Union and other international professionals wanting to work in the United Kingdom. [HL13837]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Voluntary registers are already in existence across health and social care. Our proposals for assured voluntary registration introduce a framework to provide a common, consistent and transparent process for their quality assurance.
We would expect European Union and other international health and social care occupational groups to have access to voluntary registers on the same basis as similar workers from the United Kingdom, subject to any restrictions placed on their ability to work arising from their immigration status.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the research functions of the National Institute for Health Research, the NHS Commissioning Board, Public Health England, the Health Research Authority, and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence will be co-ordinated.[HL13857]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will continue to provide transparent, competitive funding to support clinical and applied health research, the training and development of health researchers, systems to support research, and the National Health Service infrastructure for research. The NIHR works with key partners involved in the different elements of NHS research.
Work is ongoing to develop the structures and processes needed to discharge the duties of the NHS Commissioning Board, including the duty to have regard for the need to promote research on matters relevant to the health service. Further detail will be published in due course.
The Government's public health White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People confirmed that the NIHR will continue to take responsibility for the commissioning of public health research. Public Health England will work closely with the NIHR in identifying research priorities. The new NIHR School for Public Health Research will aim to build a closer relationship between public health researchers and practitioners, both in Public Health England and local authorities in England.
The Health Research Authority started work as a special health authority on 1 December 2011. It will co-operate with other bodies to combine and streamline the current system for research approvals and promote consistent, proportionate standards for compliance and inspection.
To support the development of quality standards, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will advise the NIHR on research priorities. Details of the support provided to NICE by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme can be found on the HTA website at: www.hta.ac.uk/about/nice/aboutnice.shtml.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Indonesia about the current human rights situation in that country, specifically in relation to the abuse of and discrimination against religious minorities. [HL13829]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to call for religious tolerance across Indonesia and press the authorities to ensure the rights of all religious minorities. On 28 November 2011 our ambassador to Indonesia met the Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs and raised our concerns about religious freedom specifically in relation to the Ahmaddiya and Christian communities. UK concerns were also raised by our embassy in Jakarta with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 4 August 2011 and by Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in London with the Indonesian embassy on the same day.
The importance of tackling discrimination and ensuring protection for minority communities was discussed at the European Union (EU)-Indonesia Human Rights Dialogue in Brussels on 9 March 2011. During this meeting the European Union condemned the attacks on Ahmadis in Banten in February and incidents of Christian churches being burned. The UK supported the EU-Indonesia Faith and Human Rights conference in October 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they propose to prevent sentencing disproportionately adversely impacting on black and Asian offenders; and what are the implications for community cohesion and social justice of such impacts.[HL13821]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Sentencing is entirely a matter for the courts, taking account of all the circumstances of each case. There are many factors underlying sentencing outcomes, including the seriousness mix of the offences that come before the courts and the impact of guilty pleas that result in a reduction of sentence. The overall sentencing figures can mask these complexities, which emerge only through more detailed analysis of individual offences.
The courts are responsive to and dependent on other agencies, including the prosecution when making representations on bail and probation/youth offending teams when proposing recommendations through pre-sentence reports. As such, it is necessary to look beyond decisions taken by the court, and to consider, if there is an apparent disparity, whether this is due to factors within the court, or whether there are external influencing factors.
For example, socioeconomic factors may make people from black and Asian communities more vulnerable to both perpetrating crime and becoming victims of crime. Evidence suggests that factors such as poor housing, education, healthcare, family breakdown and poor employment prospects can and do impact adversely on black and Asian people's lives, making them more vulnerable to becoming involved in the CJS.
The MoJ is working closely with colleagues across government, local authorities and the voluntary and community sectors to ensure we provide joined up and practical programmes to prevent particularly black and Asian people becoming involved with the CJS in the first place and, if they do to support them either as victims or to stop their offending behaviour. We are making a deliberate shift away from interventions delivered specifically on the basis of race or ethnicity and towards increasing the impact of core and mainstream policies and programmes for disadvantaged communities, in disadvantaged areas.
We have for example, launched a social mobility strategy, which makes a commitment to develop tailored responses to remove particular barriers faced by different people. The strategy identifies socioeconomic inequality
7 Dec 2011 : Column WA176
To ask Her Majesty's Government in what circumstances members of the public can distribute leaflets and other printed matter in public spaces without notifying the local authority concerned or obtaining a licence in areas where legislation covering leafleting has been enacted.[HL13739]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether members of the public can distribute leaflets and other printed matter in public spaces without notifying the local authority concerned or obtaining a licence if they do so for charitable, religious or political purposes. [HL13740]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to introduce or amend legislation to allow the free distribution of leaflets and other printed matter without the necessity of applying for licences where such requirements are currently applied. [HL13741]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 amended the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to introduce measures to help control the litter problem created by the distribution of free literature, which is often quickly discarded by the people to whom it is given.
Under Schedule 3A to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, if a local authority is satisfied that the distribution of free literature is causing defacement it may choose to designate an area of land under its management where restrictions on the distribution of free literature will apply. Restrictions cannot be imposed in relation to private land or premises.
Local authorities are required to adequately publicise details of land in their areas that they so designate, including, wherever practicable, by on-site signage. Anyone distributing free literature in a designated area without consent from the local authority commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction in a magistrates' court to a fine of up to level four (currently £2,500) on the standard scale, or alternatively a fixed penalty notice. A specific exemption from the provisions of Schedule 3A applies where the distribution is for political, charitable or religious purposes.
There are no plans to amend the legislation on these provisions. Defra produced guidance on the operation of these provisions shortly after the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005 came into force. Among other things, this guidance encourages
7 Dec 2011 : Column WA177
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legislation, passed during the 2005-10 Parliament, is the responsibility of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and has yet to be brought into force, either in full or in part.[HL13771]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): During the 2005-10 Parliament, 10 Acts of Parliament were passed for which the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is responsible. Of these Acts seven have been fully commenced and three have been commenced in part.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legislation, passed during the 2005-10 Parliament, is the responsibility of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and has yet to be brought into force, either in full or in part.[HL13775]
|Act||Position on provisions not in force|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take in the light of the recent United Nations report that some 7,000 people, many of them foreigners, are being detained in Libya by revolutionary brigade militias.[HL13790]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) raised the United Nations Secretary-General's report with the Libyan Charge on 1 December expressing our concern at these reports and urging the Transitional Government to take action. In his discussions with senior members of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and the Transitional Government, the Foreign Secretary, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) has routinely raised the importance of respecting human rights and of bringing militias fully into new security structures in Libya, including with NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil when he visited Tripoli on 17 October, and with Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib. The Libyan authorities have consistently stated their commitment to upholding human rights and we expect the newly formed Transitional Government to make good on these commitments.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure young people from all communities participate in National Citizen Service; and what steps they are taking to inform children about the purposes and benefits of the scheme. [HL13831]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The National Citizen Service (NCS) is currently being piloted and in 2012 up to 30,000 places will be available. The 29 organisations delivering NCS have been selected on their ability to reach young people from all backgrounds, contributing
7 Dec 2011 : Column WA179
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish the assessment they have made of the probability of default on loans to be guaranteed by the national loan guarantee scheme and the likely losses in the event of defaults.[HL13824]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The national loan guarantee scheme will provide government guarantees to banks for raising funds to lend to smaller businesses. The Government will not guarantee loans made to businesses under the scheme and will not be involved in making credit assessments of firms.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department has not yet scheduled a date when proposals to enable non-National Health Service bodies to take up NHS clinical indemnity arrangements will be published.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many grants or loans they made to (1) voluntary organisations, and (2) social enterprises, to provide NHS services in the 2010-11 financial year and in 2011-12; and what to date was the total amount paid to those organisations for each of those periods. [HL13873]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): It is currently the responsibility of primary care trusts (PCTs) and local authorities to fund local NHS services based on their local population's health and care needs and ensuring real quality for patients and best value for money.
Although the department provides grant and loan funding to voluntary organisations and social enterprises it does not fund front-line NHS services with the exception of funding provided to hospices for palliative care. In 2010-11, the department provided grants of £10,000,000 to 40 children's hospices. This funding increased to £10,494,000 in 2011-12.
Government reforms aim to free up provision of healthcare, so that in most sectors of care any qualified provider can provide services that meet NHS standards within NHS prices, giving patients greater choice, stimulating innovation, improving quality and increasing productivity. This will mean that charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises will have greater opportunities to offer health and care services.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): A national ambition to double the number of patients taking part in clinical trials and other well-designed research studies within five years was included in the 2009-10 NHS operating framework.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) makes it possible for patients and health professionals across England to participate in relevant clinical trials and other well designed research studies.
A total of 564,698 participants were recruited to trials and studies hosted by the NIHR CRN in 2010-11. This represents a more than doubling of recruitment compared to the baseline of 250,000 participants in trials and studies hosted by the NIHR CRN in 2008-09.
The 2011-12 NHS operating framework confirmed that the promotion and conduct of research is a core National Health Service function and highlighted that continued research and the use of research evidence in design and delivery of services is key to achieving improvements in outcomes.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is a member of the Deauville Partnership, which aims to support and encourage Middle East and north Africa countries undergoing political and economic transition. The UK attends its meetings at ministerial level.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: In 1991, an environmental allowance was introduced for Northern Ireland Office staff whose duties included a recognised and ongoing commitment to work in Northern Ireland prison establishments and/or operational police stations. In February 1992, and following ministerial approval, this was extended to all NIO staff working in the law and order field in Northern Ireland. At present, 36 members of staff on the NIO payroll, which equates to 34.2 per cent of the work force, receive this allowance of £23.92 per month (£287 per annum) in addition to their salaries, this allowance is subject to tax and national insurance. This allowance was last increased in 1994.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Recent moves towards more open and pluralistic societies in the Middle East and north Africa have increased the available political space for a number of Islamist organisations to operate legally. Islamist groups have attracted support because
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We believe that the key requirement of all parties taking part in the politics of the region is that they should respect the democratic process and have a clear commitment to human rights, the rule of law and non-violence. We engage with political groups, including Islamists, who meet these criteria.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford of 21 November (WA 215), how they define the term strategic partner in relation to (1) Israel and (2) Turkey.[HL13719]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK-Turkey strategic partnership, signed in Ankara by the two Prime Ministers in July 2010, sets out our ambition to deepen co-operation across the whole range of UK interests, including trade, defence, security, energy and foreign policy. On foreign policy, the UK values Turkey's network of relationships across the Middle East. The UK hopes that Turkey will draw on these to garner regional support for a resumption of negotiations on the Middle East peace process.
The UK and Israel hold a number of important shared objectives across a broad range of policy areas and countries. These include: shared regional security concerns, including diplomatic efforts to deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons; international work to counter anti-Semitism; bilateral defence co- operation; academic, scientific and cultural partnership; the promotion of democratic governance, judicial independence and media freedom; and building and maintaining strong trade and financial links. We discuss such issues at the annual UK-Israel strategic dialogue. That said, we do not hesitate to express disagreement to Israel where we feel necessary. Although we do not agree on everything, we enjoy a close and productive relationship. It is this very relationship that allows us to have the frank discussions often necessary between friends.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the absence of formal re-export controls, it is an offence for a United Kingdom-based or controlled supplier to supply by electronic means software updates required for the continued effective functioning of items on the Wassenaar Arrangement's munitions
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The export from the UK of software specially designed or modified for military use and of dual-use software as specified in Annexe I of Council Regulation (EC) 428/2009 by electronic means is subject to an export control requirement as specified in the relevant legislation and control lists. Country-specific sanctions regimes may include further controls on exports to those countries. The controls apply equally to software upgrades as to the original supply of software or equipment.
In general, export controls are based on the country of destination of the items to be exported with a thorough risk assessment of all relevant information undertaken at the licensing stage. An export licence authorises specific items to be exported to one or more specified destinations, depending on the type of licence. If a controlled item is exported to a destination not authorised by an individual licence issued to that exporter, or by a general licence available for use by any exporter, then that would be an offence.
Export control law does not refer explicitly to IP addresses in particular countries. The destination country of an export is determined on the facts of the case, which may include the IP address in the case of an export transacted by electronic means.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) does not record this information centrally and it could be provided only at disproportionate cost. HMRC does report automatically to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) any cases where there is injury or death following contact with HMRC and there is a complaint or concern that the contact may have caused or contributed to the injury/death. There were five cases of death following contact referred to the IPCC across HMRC in 2010-11. None of the five subsequent investigations identified any causal link between the contact with HMRC and the death.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ascertain the tax status of the bid vehicle and the insertions in it through which Virgin Money is acquiring Northern Rock plc; and whether in comparing this bid with possible other
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Lord Sassoon: The Government are unable to comment on individuals' or companies' tax arrangements. Any information relating to UK tax liabilities is held by HM Revenue and Customs on a confidential basis, and therefore the requested information cannot be provided.
HM Treasury has issued guidance to departments, which emphasises that departments should base commercial decisions on the need to secure value for money, independent of any tax advantages that may arise from a bid.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to facilitate the nomination of Northern Ireland advisers by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to the advisory panel of the United Kingdom Commission on a Bill of Rights.[HL13692]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government wrote to all the devolved Administrations on 17 May 2011 asking for nominations for advisers to the advisory panel to the Commission on a UK Bill of Rights by 25 May 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Social Justice Sub-Committee of the Cabinet has considered the current level of unemployment, in particular as it affects young people including graduates, in conjunction with the impact of the current economic environment; if so, what recommendations it has made; and if not, why not.[HL13765]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Social Justice Cabinet Committee considers a wide range of issues related to social justice, and young people are an important part of the agenda. It is long-standing government practice not to disclose information relating to ministerial meetings, including the proceedings of Cabinet and Cabinet committees, as to do so would put at risk the public interest in the full and frank discussion of policy by Ministers.
However, the Government have recently announced the Youth Contract scheme, which includes a range of additional help for unemployed young people, building on the support already available through Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme. This will include more intensive support for all 18 to 24 year-olds including additional adviser time and weekly signing requirements, extra work experience and sector-based work academy places, and a new wage incentive scheme delivered through the Work Programme. Extra funding will be made available to support the most vulnerable NEET 16 and 17 year-olds into learning, an apprenticeship or job with training. The package of support is worth nearly £1 billion over the next three years.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Information from published sources is not available in the form requested. The Office for National Statistics publishes information on the median duration of completed spells on jobseeker's allowance (JSA) but this includes those who have left for a non-work destination and is affected by the composition of the claimant count and not just the length of time that a typical new claimant can expect to spend on benefit.
However, on average young people leave JSA more quickly than older age groups. Around 40 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds who start on JSA are still claiming three months later, indicating that the median expected duration for 18 to 24 year-olds making a new claim is currently less than three months. This has been similar in previous years, apart from 2009 when the proportion of new claims surviving to three months briefly rose to nearly 50 per cent as a result of the recession.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their forecast of the average length of time for which a person aged 16 to 24 should expect to be unemployed before finding work in each of the next five years. [HL13897]
Lord Freud: The department does not publish forecasts for unemployment or average time spent out of work. The latest forecast from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, published on 29 November 2011, is for unemployment to rise from its current 8.3 per cent of the labour force to 8.7 per cent in the final quarter of 2012 before falling back to 5.9 per cent in the final quarter of 2016. There is no separate forecast for youth unemployment but this would be expected to follow a broadly similar trend.
The Government are investing in policies to support young people to remain active in their job search and help them to engage in real work with employers. This includes a new youth contract worth nearly £1 billion. The contract will provide more intensive support for all 18 to 24 year-olds and builds on that already available through Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will inform Parliament about the current United Nations initiatives to improve the effectiveness of, and public information about, international water programmes, especially in relation to flooding, water resources, and water treatment.[HL13860]
Baroness Northover: Departments across government are working to promote an efficient and effective United Nations system in which UN agencies and programmes work to their areas of comparative advantage. There is close co-ordination between departments and UK missions to ensure the UN delivers on a range of common government areas of interest from transparency through to results.
Her Majesty's Government have no current plans to make specific announcements on UN initiatives on water resources management, supply and sanitation, but government departments will work through parliamentary committees and other parliamentary mechanisms to ensure that Parliament is kept informed. The Government recognise the key contribution that water security makes to regional and national development and will continue to support UN agencies working on these complex issues. The Department for International Development (DfID) funds UN Water to strengthen its capacity to co-ordinate and promote sustainable water service delivery across UN agencies.
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