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To ask Her Majesty's Government what will be the effect of Pakistan closing its border to the passage of fuel and supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan; what reasons have been given by Russia for the threatened closure of the Northern Distribution Network; and what alternatives are being considered. [HL13932]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Following a cross-border incident overnight on 25 and 26 November 2011, Pakistan has closed its borders to ISAF traffic consignments entering and exiting Afghanistan through Pakistan by surface means. Alternative lines of communication are unaffected.
Though the likely duration of the Pakistan border closure is not clear, this is not a cause for concern yet; suspension of flow across the ground lines of communication are not unknown. Given the nature and priority of sustainment materiel already en route and the level of stocks held in Afghanistan, the impact of the closure of the border crossing is assessed as being manageable.
Russia has not threatened to close the Northern Distribution Network. Russian officials have confirmed, following public statements recently made by the Russian ambassador to NATO, that Russia is willing to allow NATO cargoes to Afghanistan and back to transit through its territory.
Commercially sourced and delivered commodities, including food and fuel, continue to flow into Afghanistan; those contractors who are reliant on the Pakistan borders are, where necessary, in the process of scoping alternatives.
We are resilient to border closures of the type we are currently experiencing in Pakistan. However, sensible planning is ongoing to identify alternative arrangements. This includes a greater use of the other lines of communication to provide mitigation should the Pakistani border remain closed to ISAF traffic in the longer term.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Bonn conference held on 5 December reiterated the international community's long-term commitment to Afghanistan. The conference conclusions set out a range of commitments on the part of the international community and Afghan government to work towards a secure and stable Afghanistan.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the contingency planning to deal with all potential outcomes of the Eurozone crisis referred to in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement.[HL13940]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As the Chancellor of the Exchequer made clear in his Autumn Statement, we are undertaking extensive contingency planning to deal with all potential outcomes of the euro crisis. There are no plans to publish this work.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Autumn Statement that an increase in the ceiling on asset purchases by the Bank of England to £275 billion had been authorised, what assets were expected to be purchased with this sum. [HL13942]
Lord Sassoon: The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his letter to the Governor of the Bank of England on 6 October 2011, authorised an increase in the ceiling of asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves from £200 billion to £275 billion.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 5 December (WA 106), how many breaches of health and safety legislation by airlines have been identified; and how many times enforcement action has been taken. [HL14177]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): In the 10 year period 2001-02 to 2010-11 significant breaches of health and safety legislation by airlines and associated subsidiaries resulted in 29 improvement notices, two deferred prohibition notices and two immediate prohibition notices. There were also two prosecution cases, one of which resulted in conviction for two breaches.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish a progress report on the review into the scope for operational savings in private finance initiative projects, launched by Lord Sassoon on 16 February.[HL13900]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government will continue to review the banks' performance against their Project Merlin commitments. Banks must meet their commitments in a way that is proportionate and fair to their customers.
The terms under which Project Merlin is measured are set out in the published agreement. The terms under which the Bank of England measures its trends in lending data are a matter for the Bank of England.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to introduce a framework of financial support to be activated in the event of the financial collapse of a central counterparty and trade repository. [HL13903]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to my answer to his question of 15 November. That answer is available at: http://services.parliament.uk/hansard/Lords/bydate/20111115/writtenanswers/part004.html.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 25 November (WA 201), what standard they will apply in ensuring that Royal Bank of Scotland is "paying no more in bonuses than is necessary to protect the value of the taxpayer's investment".[HL13904]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI) is responsible for managing the Government's investment in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on an arm's length and commercial basis.
UKFI seeks to ensure that RBS fulfill its obligations under the Financial Services Authority's Remuneration Code and that RBS pays no more than necessary to protect the commercial interests of the bank. UKFI takes account of appropriate external benchmarks in relation to key financial measures, both on an absolute basis and relative to year-on-year progress.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to investigate reports from the Federation of Small Businesses that United Kingdom banks are requiring customers to move bank loans from an existing account to a new one; and whether they plan to make adjustments to the published Project Merlin and Trends in Lending data to take account of such behaviour.[HL13901]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government updated the February 2011 draft operational savings guidance on 19 July. They published a guidance note "Making savings in operational PFI contracts."
The savings guidance can be found at the following link: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/iuk_making_ savings.pdf
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Bank of England will monitor banks' compliance with the terms of the facilities covered by the National Loan Guarantee Scheme; and whether this monitoring will be conducted in accordance with the Bank's statistical standards.[HL13905]
Lord Sassoon: At the Autumn Statement the Chancellor said: "We have developed with the Bank of England a mechanism to allocate funding to different banks, based on how much they increase both net and gross lending to firms".
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the implementation of the Independent Commission on Banking proposals to enhance the safety of United Kingdom retail and commercial banking will obviate the case for a bank levy.[HL13968]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The purpose of the bank levy is to ensure that the banking sector makes a fair contribution, reflecting the risks that banks pose to the financial system and the wider economy. The levy is also designed to encourage banks to move away from riskier funding models.
The bank levy is not a charge in relation to any implicit guarantee. The bank levy and the Independent Commission on Banking proposals are, therefore, complementary elements of the Government's reform agenda.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all relevant government departments were consulted about the decision to increase welfare benefits by 5.2 per cent at a time when wages and salaries are increasing by 2.3 per cent and public sector incomes are limited to a 1 per cent increase for two years; and, if so, what were their reactions.[HL14068]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Decisions on up-rating were reached collectively. The considerations taken into account on up-rating were outlined in the Distributional Analysis to accompany the Autumn Statement. As my honourable friend the Minister for
13 Dec 2011 : Column WA232
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Reporters without Borders's Press Freedom Barometer 2011 estimates that 30 journalists are currently imprisoned in China, while the Committee to Protect Journalists puts the figure at 27. Most of these cases involve charges such as inciting subversion of state power, inciting separatism, endangering national security or divulging state secrets.
We believe that greater freedom of the media is strongly in China's own interests. We monitor these issues closely and have raised a number of cases of concern regarding imprisoned journalists and bloggers in our regular human rights dialogue with the Chinese Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Marland on 13 December 2010 (WA 110) and on 16 February 2011 (WA 164-5) on the cost of sending the United Kingdom delegation to the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference, how much they have budgeted for their participation at the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference; and whether this is more or less than the cost of participating at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference. [HL14185]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): DECC will make public the cost of sending the UK delegation to the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference once figures have been finalised. This will be via publication on the department's website, as was the case following the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference. The department has made every effort to ensure that the cost of sending the UK delegation to the 2011 conference is less than the cost of the 2010 conference (which was £355,701).
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Prosecutions for metal theft are likely to be instigated under Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968. The number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates' courts for dishonestly appropriating/stealing property belonging to another, under part Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968, in England and Wales from 2006 to 2010 (latest available) can be viewed in the table. Centrally held court proceedings data, other than where specified in a statute, do not identify the type of stolen property.
|Defendants proceeded against at magistrates' courts for dishonestly appropriating/stealing property belong to another, for selected offences under (part) Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968(1), England and Wales, 2006-10(2)(3)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any assessment of the number of countries which have changed their currencies since 1945; and, if so, what the average cost has been to those countries as a percentage of gross domestic product. [HL14075]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the regulations governing the use of bicycles on public roads requires updating; whether they propose to make such changes; and, if so, when.[HL14195]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 1 December (WA 90) concerning the wearing of helmets by cyclists, why, given that helmets can reduce the chances of death and serious injury, they will not make the wearing of helmets mandatory.[HL14040]
Earl Attlee: We have no plans to mandate the use of cycle helmets. Helmets offer cyclists protection in a limited number of circumstances and, as such, whilst we encourage their use through the Highway Code we believe the decision on whether to wear a helmet should remain a matter of individual choice. In addition, mandating the use of helmets could lead to a reduction in overall cycling levels, resulting in the loss of the significant health benefits derived from cycling.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It is difficult to make direct comparisons between sectors but there is evidence that investment in both housing and economic infrastructure can have a positive impact on employment and economic growth. Academic evidence on the long-term productivity impact of investment in economic infrastructure is discussed in paragraph 1.2 of the National Infrastructure Plan 2011. Estimates by the Office of National Statistics show that short-term output from housing construction, repairs and maintenance has averaged 3 per cent of GDP in the last decade1.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The results of gilt issuance operations, including the average accepted yields, are available on the Debt Management Office's website at http://www.dmo.gov.uk/index.aspx?page=Gilts/Operations.
The March 2010 Budget was delivered on 24 March 2010. The 10 year benchmark gilt yield was 3.92 per cent at close-markets on 23 March 2010 and 3.98 per cent at close-markets on 24 March 2010. At close-markets on 12 December 2011, it was 2.10 per cent. These yields are taken from Bloomberg.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they prompted the change of policy at the Joint Council for Qualifications regarding extra time allowable in exams for those with dyslexia and other communication conditions; and, if so, why; whether they or the Joint Council for Qualifications have consulted on such a change of policy, and, if so, who was consulted; and which categories of students, and how many, they estimate will be affected by this change of policy.[HL13815]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Equality Act 2010 places a duty on awarding organisations to make reasonable adjustments to qualifications such as GCSEs to meet the needs of disabled candidates.
The relevant trade association, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) produces guidance for its members on how those adjustments can be made by means of the permitted access arrangements. In practice this guidance determines the approach taken by schools, colleges and other exam centres. We have no direct involvement in the production of this guidance. However, the independent qualifications regulator, Ofqual, has oversight of the qualifications system, with a remit to safeguard standards and confidence in qualifications. An important aspect of that role is to ensure that appropriate systems are in place in relation to reasonable adjustments.
A range of access arrangements is available for disabled candidates with communication conditions, including the use of readers, scribes, word processors and alternative formats for papers. One common access arrangement is to give extra time to a candidate whose disability places them at a substantial disadvantage over others when completing a timed assessment in the time allowed. To protect the integrity of (and therefore confidence in) the system, appropriate evidence is required to justify such an access arrangement. Extra time is only given to candidates whose disabilities give rise to a need for extra time in their normal school activities. This policy has been reflected for some years in the JCQ guidance.
The most recent edition of the JCQ guidance confirms the requirement over extra time for a centre to consider and maintain on record the evidence that the student has been assessed as having a below average standardised score in an assessment of processing, reading or writing
13 Dec 2011 : Column WA236
To ask Her Majesty's Government what evaluation they have made, or will be making, of the effectiveness of the Get Set programme in encouraging the teaching and learning of modern languages in schools. [HL13883]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) carries out an annual evaluation of its education programme, Get Set, through its research partner, Nielsen. This research is not specific to modern foreign languages or any other curriculum subject, but it examines how schools have used the programme. A small number of case studies of modern foreign language applications has been generated by the qualitative elements of this research.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): As stated in the Renewable Heat Incentive policy document (published in March), we are considering whether to support bioliquids as part of developing the second phase of the scheme. In the light of the later than expected launch of phase one of the Renewable Heat Incentive and of the changes required by the European Commission, we are reviewing the timetable for the introduction of phase two and will confirm the timetable early next year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Pew Environment Group's conclusion that the United Kingdom has fallen from third to 13th in the world in terms of investment in green growth.[HL13987]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Pew Environment Group's report, Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? assesses key financial, investment and technological trends in the G-20 produced from underlying data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The data cover transactions across a range of stages of investment and renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
While it is true that UK 2010 investment levels in this sector have fallen in comparison to 2009 levels, leading to a drop in ranking, the five-year growth rate for finance and investment in this area is still very strong (49 per cent), with installed "cleantech" capacity growing at 21 per cent over the same period.
Other sources suggest that the UK performs well with respect to particular aspects of financing clean technologies. For example, according to Cleantech Group which provides market intelligence on investment and the companies innovating across green sectors, in 2010 the UK is ranked third globally after USA and China in terms of amount of venture capital investment in the green sector. The UK was also placed third in 2009.
HM Government recognise that an unprecedented level of investment over the coming decades will be required to deliver a transition to a green economy and is working towards achieving that transition through the development of well designed, long-term and stable policies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the service life-expectancy in years of the under-sea electric cables used to transmit into the National Grid the electricity generated from maritime wind farms for which they have granted permission. [HL14111]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Experience of onshore underground cables that have been properly manufactured and installed, then operated within their designed rating, indicates that a life-expectancy of 40 to 60 years and probably more is achievable. It is currently the subject of a number of international research programmes to predict just what additional life-expectancy there may be. Experience with submarine cable is limited compared with onshore underground cables and there is no comparable body of statistical evidence for prediction of life-expectancy. Equally, there is no evidence of premature failure of such installations.
As submarine cable technology is so similar to onshore cable technology there is no reason to predict that life expectancy will be any less than onshore installations for properly designed, installed and operated systems.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the service life-expectancy in years of the pillars which are sunk into the seabed and on which wind turbine
13 Dec 2011 : Column WA238
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the service life-expectancy in years of wind turbine towers mounted on the pillars in the seabed in maritime wind farms for which they have granted permission.[HL14113]
Earl Attlee: Ministers and officials have regular meetings with various stakeholders including representatives of oil companies, trade associations representing the transport fuels industry, a large number of UK and international non-governmental organisations (including those representing environmental and social issues), the European Commission, European member states and the Canadian Government to discuss the complex issue of the extraction of oil from oil sands and the European fuel quality directive.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider launching a review of the regulation, processes and protection available in respect of client assets held by financial advisers and other authorised firms.[HL13902]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority (FSA), as the UK's regulatory body, would be in charge of carrying out such a review. Monitoring the assets held by financial advisors and other authorised firms operating in the UK is also one of its primary responsibilities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 17 October (WA 11), how the policy of credit easing to be followed by HM Treasury will be co-ordinated with the policy of quantitative easing being implemented by the Bank of England; and why the Bank of England has not been given responsibility for implementing credit easing.[HL13965]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England has been engaging with HM Treasury on credit easing as part of routine government business. The Debt Management Office will administer the provision of guarantees for the National Loan Guarantee Scheme having previously successfully implemented the Credit Guarantee Scheme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how credit easing will be recorded on the Government's balance sheet; what assessment has been made of any likely losses; and what was the basis on which this determination was made.[HL13966]
Lord Sassoon: The expected impact of the Business Partnership Fund on public sector net borrowing and net debt is set out in chapter 3 of the Autumn Statement 2011 policy costings document. The expected impact of the National Loan Guarantee Scheme is outlined in paragraph 1.69 of the Autumn Statement.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I understand that the Financial Services Authority replied on 28 November and that a copy of the letter has been placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will now provide the corrected version of the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 25 October (WA 129) regarding female directors of FTSE companies. [HL14216]
|Year||No of women executive directors||Percentage of total executive directors||No of companies with no female executive|
|Year||N° of women executive directors||Percentage of total executive directors||No of companies with no female executive|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what has been the involvement in the extraction of gas from disputed reserves off the coast of Gaza of (1) United Kingdom companies, and (2) the United Kingdom Government.[HL13938]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In 2000, British Gas Group (BG Group) undertook exploratory drilling off the coast of Gaza. BG Group still own a 90 per cent interest in the Gaza marine licence, but withdrew from negotiations with the Government of Israel for gas sales at the end of 2007. During this period the Government was in contact with both BG and the Government of Israel about the reserves. With this exception, no other UK companies have been involved in the extraction of gas off the coast of Gaza.
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 transaction undertaken by the Ministry of Justice using the Government procurement card in (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08, (c) 2008-09, (d) 2009-10, and (e) 2010-11. [HL14010]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The work required to obtain, contextualise and report Ministry of Justice GPC spend data for the periods 2006-11, or regarding those transactions under £500, would incur disproportionate cost.
However, since 27 October 2011 the Ministry of Justice began to publish information on transactions of £500 and over for 2011-12 on our website and will continue to do so on a monthly basis: http://www.justice. gov.uk/publications/transparency-data/gov-procurement-card.htm.
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 transaction undertaken by the Department for Work and Pensions using the Government Procurement Card in (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-08, (c) 2008-09, (d) 2009-10, and (e) 2010-11.[HL14078]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): This Government are committed to transparency and we believe the information regarding Government Procurement Cards for this financial year is the most relevant.
During October we began to publish information on transactions over £500 for 2011-12 for Department for Work and Pensions on our website and will continue to do so on a monthly basis: How DWP is being transparent.
The cost of work required to obtain, contextualise and report data for Central Government Departments from the previous 3 years, or regarding those transactions under £500, would exceed the cost limits of a Freedom of Information request or a Parliamentary question.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the concerns expressed in the 2011 annual report of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, and information that the latest statistics on deaths and injuries in the workplace are trending upwards.[HL14137]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The latest statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive on 2 November 2011 show a continuing downward trend in non-fatal workplace injury. This trend is observed from both survey data sources and reported injuries by employers.
Fatal injuries to workers increased to 171 in 2010-11 from an historic low figure of 147 in 2009-10. However, the annual fatality count is subject to substantial chance variation as a result of fatalities being relatively rare events and data needs to be analysed over a number of years. The 2010-11 figure remains below the annual average for the five year period from 2005-06 to 2009-10 and is still consistent with a continuing downward trend.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps are being taken to remove any barriers to the setting up of clinical trials of investigational medicinal products (CTIMPS) caused by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency's interpretation of the European Union Clinical Trials Directive.[HL14090]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps have been taken to implement their Plan for Growth recommendation that the Health Research Agency should work closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to create a unified approval process for clinical trials.[HL14092]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the Government agency responsible for regulating clinical trials on medicines conducted in the United Kingdom. In April 2011 the MHRA introduced a risk adapted approach to the conduct of certain clinical trials in the UK, which operates within the framework of the current European Union Directive. Under this scheme researchers are encouraged to take proportionate approaches to the conduct, monitoring and documentation of certain lower risk trials. Guidance for researchers on implementing this approach is currently being produced. The MHRA continues to look for opportunities to reduce regulatory burdens within the current legislative framework whilst protecting UK public health.
The Government see the planned revision of the directive as an important opportunity to further reduce burdens on commercial and academic researchers and to introduce a more risk adapted approach to the monitoring and approval of clinical trials in order to improve the attractiveness of the European Union and the UK as a place for the conduct of clinical trials. The European Commission is expected to publish its proposals mid-2012. The MHRA has been heavily involved in helping the European Commission to shape its proposals and the Government continue to urge the European Commission to come up with its proposals as soon as possible.
The Health Research Authority (HRA) started work on 1 December 2011 and will work with partners, including the MHRA, to develop plans to create a unified approval process. It has already published plans which include further developments to the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) and which will see the development of electronic submission through IRAS. The IRAS Board will discuss at its scheduled meeting in January the timing of the release of this enhanced system across the partnership including the HRA, MHRA and NHS research permissions. This will see a stepped improvement in the integrated application system provided UK wide and remove the need for paper submissions. The IRAS Board will also discuss the development of a single application package within the integrated system and the coordination of messages to enable a single application route.
In addition, on 1 December the HRA issued proposals for the further development of its National Research Ethics Service. These include measures to support further proportionality and consistency within the service, and to test the potential for a global assurance on the suitability of researchers and sponsors which could then be provided as a national assurance system
13 Dec 2011 : Column WA243
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have on how many people in the United Kingdom have a degree in (1) mathematics, (2) computer science, and (3) physics; and what information they have on what proportion of the total number of graduates in the United Kingdom have a degree in (1) mathematics, (2) computer science, and (3) physics. [HL14005]
Those who initially gain a degree in one subject but go on to acquire a higher degree in another will only have the subject of their higher degree recorded. There is also insufficient detail on the subjects studied for those who studied combined degrees (e.g. Maths and French). Thus the data will underestimate the numbers of individuals with a degree in Mathematics, Computer Science or Physics.
From the Labour Force Survey Q3 2011 data (covering the period July to September 2011), estimates of the numbers of individuals in the UK who studied a single subject degree in Physics, Maths or Computer Science for their highest qualification (split by type of highest degree) are as follows:
And the corresponding proportions of the total number of graduates with single subject degrees as their highest qualification whose highest degree was in physics, maths or computer science (split by type of highest degree) are as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people in the United Kingdom are studying degree-level (1) mathematics, (2) computer science, and (3) physics; and in each case what proportion this represents of the total number of students in the United Kingdom. [HL14006]
Baroness Verma: The numbers and proportions of enrolments to postgraduate and first degree courses in mathematical sciences, computer science and physics at UK higher education institutions are shown by domicile in the tables. Information for the 2010-11 academic year will become available from January 2012.
|Postgraduate enrolments (1) in Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science and Physics by domicile (2)|
|UK higher education institutions|
|Academic year 2009-10|
|Subject (3)||UK||Per cent of total||EU||Per cent of total||Non-EU overseas||Per cent of total|
|First degree enrolments (1) in Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science and Physics by domicile (2)|
|UK higher education institutions|
|Academic year 2009-10|
|Subject (3)||UK||Per cent of total||EU||Per cent of total||Non-EU overseas||Per cent of total|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the rules for English universities concerning which European Union (EU) nationals are not required to pay fees; how such nationalities are defined; whether students with Irish passports are regarded as EU nationals not required to pay English university fees; and how many non-fee-paying EU students were enrolled in English universities last year. [HL14116]
Baroness Verma: EU nationals studying at English universities are required to pay tuition fees on the same basis as home students. This is because under EU law, an EU citizen or their family member exercising a treaty right to live in another member state is entitled to access higher education on the same basis as nationals of the host state. Access to higher education has been interpreted to mean that other EU nationals should be treated the same way in relation to tuition fees as home students. An EU national or their family member coming to study at an English university will therefore be charged the same tuition fee as a UK national and have access to a tuition fee loan, providing they have resided in the EEA or Switzerland for the three years prior to the first day of the first academic year of their course. An EU national is defined as a national of one of the EU member states, including nationals of the Republic of Ireland. The family member can be any nationality.
Some universities may, for their own reasons, choose to waive fees for particular students, but we do not collect data on the country of origin of such students. In addition English HEIs that choose to participate in the Erasmus scheme do so on the understanding that they are required to teach incoming students from the EU, and that these students cannot be charged a fee for their Erasmus year. The British Council manages the Erasmus programme in the UK-figures from the British Council website show that in 2008-09 about 12,000 students studied at English HEIs for a single year-these students were not required by English HEIs to pay a tuition fee.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): As local authorities are not scheduled to sign contracts with the Homes and Communities Agency until the housing revenue account reforms are in place in April 2012, the allocations announced in July 2011 include around 5 per cent of the 80,000 affordable homes to be delivered through the Homes and Communities Agency's Affordable Homes Programme as provided by local authorities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will continue to permit local authorities to require the provision of affordable homes, including homes to rent, under agreements under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.[HL13972]
Baroness Hanham: Local authorities should use evidence to inform decisions on the number of affordable homes needed and set policies for delivery in their local plan, including where appropriate requiring the provision of affordable homes through planning obligations under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
We are currently consulting on whether to allow local authorities to use receipts from the community infrastructure levy to fund affordable housing, should they wish to do so and how this might work alongside Section 106.
Baroness Hanham: Estimates of the number of properties in England that became vacant and were relet by local authorities and housing associations as social rent general needs lettings are shown in the table below. Information is only been collected available for general needs lettings; data for local authorities has only since 2007-08.
Social landlords will also have some stock which is vacant at any one point in time, of which some will and some will not be available for letting. As at 1 April 2011 there were around 6,000 local authority-owned properties that were vacant and available for letting, and as at 31 March 2011 there were around 5,000 vacant general needs properties owned by private registered providers that were relets but ready for occupation.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The table below shows the primary legislation, passed during the 2005-10 Parliament, which is the sole responsibility of HM Treasury and has yet to be brought into force.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legislation, passed during the 2005-10 Parliament, is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Office and has yet to be brought into force, either in full or in part.[HL13847]
|Act||Provisions not yet in force|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what selection criteria will be applied in the recruitment of 16 year-olds to fill the 30,000 places that will be available in the National Citizen Service in 2012.[HL13980]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The only criterion for National Citizen Service (NCS) is that it is a programme for young people who have just completed year 11-those who are or are about to turn 16. In exceptional circumstances, the programme may be open to young people aged 17 or 18, or up to 25 for young people with learning difficulties or disabilities. The 29 organisations delivering NCS in 2012 have been selected on their ability to remove any barriers to participation to reach young people from all backgrounds, contributing to the programme's
13 Dec 2011 : Column WA249
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will supply in advance to the Office for Budget Responsibility the details of his proposals for the Budget, as he has done with the Autumn Statement.[HL13941]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) Memorandum of Understanding and Charter for Budget Responsibility, both published in April 2011, provide detail on the working relationship between HM Treasury and the OBR. Paragraph 4.12 of the charter states:
"The Treasury will advise the OBR, where necessary, on policy in development that may be of relevance to any forecast or analysis that the OBR is undertaking (for example, policy for possible inclusion within the Budget will be shared with the OBR ahead of the Budget)".
These documents are available on the HM Treasury website: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/dataobr_index. htm.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of their recent decision to retain the post of Chief Coroner, what arrangements they will make to establish a departmental board and an independent consultative board to improve the management of the coronial service and to implement its charter; and how they will relate to the post of Chief Coroner.[HL13869]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are currently considering whether to establish a departmental board in light of the decision to proceed with implementation of the office of the Chief Coroner.
The Government still intend to establish a consultative group of bereavement organisations to assess the impact that the new charter is having on coroner services. This group will need to work closely with the Chief Coroner.
Baroness Garden of Frognal: Her Majesty's Government currently have no plans for the recruitment of professional interpreters and translators for Government business during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The requirement will be kept under review as business and dignitary programmes develop. For the Games themselves, the London 2012 Organising Committee will be recruiting 850 specialist professional interpreters, as well as around 3,000 Games Maker volunteers who will have some level of skill in a foreign language.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what will be the annual saving to the Exchequer of uprating the basic and additional state pensions for 2012-13 by the Consumer Prices Index rather than the Retail Price Index.[HL14164]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Uprating the basic and additional state pension by the Retail Prices Index in 2012-13 would cost £300 million more than uprating by the Consumer Prices Index.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 22 November (WA 231), what information is held by the Home Office to assess the race equality efficacy and impact of policing in England and Wales.[HL13817]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Equalities and Criminal Information makes assessments of the equality impact of the police service in England and Wales.[HL13819]
The Equality Act 2010 places a statutory duty on public authorities, including police forces, to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good community relations. The equality and diversity performance and impact of policing policies and practices should be a priority for forces in consultation with their local communities.
Earl Attlee: The Government have announced electrification of the railway route between Manchester and York via Leeds. The current estimate for the cost of the whole scheme is £290 million, as set out in table 2.3 of the autumn Statement.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 25 November (WA 287-8), what measures they will put in place to allow train operators to purchase locomotives or their motors which comply with the European Union flexibility directive in the period before it is transposed into United Kingdom law; and whether they will take action against train operators under the earlier non-road machinery directive if their purchase complies with the flexibility directive before it is transposed. [HL13822]
Earl Attlee: The non-road mobile machinery emissions directive prohibits the placing on the market of engines which do not comply with the latest air pollutant emissions standards. This requirement is transposed in the UK by the Non-Road Mobile Machinery (Emission of Gaseous and Particulate Pollutant) Regulations. Since the existing UK regulations do not contain a flexibility scheme for locomotives, and will not do so until the directive is transposed, a manufacturer who places an engine on the UK market under the terms of the flexibility scheme in advance of the transposition of the amending directive would be in breach of UK law. It would be for the courts to decide whether any other person was complicit in the offence. The Government recognise the difficulties faced by operators, and are working to transpose directive 2011/88/EU and the additional flexibility it permits. However, the Government have no power to prevent the law as it currently stands from being applied.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what levels of freight traffic High Speed Two Ltd has used in assessing the capacity of the west coast main line north of Lichfield after the first section of the line opens.[HL14028]
Earl Attlee: HS2 Ltd undertook a high-level assessment of the capacity available for freight north of Lichfield, bearing in mind the March 2007 Freight Route Utilisation Strategy published by Network Rail. The conclusion was that the standard hour December 2008 west coast main line timetable-which features paths for three trains per hour from London (Wembley), plus a fourth hourly path from Nuneaton (for services from Southampton), and a fifth path joining at Stafford (from the Birmingham area)-provided sufficient capacity for the foreseeable freight traffic through this area. It was anticipated that any additional freight trains required to operate would do so within the constraints and headroom of the pre-existing path limitations set by the December 2008 timetable.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the required standard heights above rail for railway platforms in stations serving (1) national rail services, (2) Eurostar trains, (3) dedicated high-speed services on High Speed Two (HS2), (4) high-speed trains using HS2 and the national rail network, and (5) high- speed trains such as Eurostars and German ICE trains which can use HS2, HS1 and operate on the continent; and which of these standards comply with disabled persons access regulations.[HL14029]
Earl Attlee: The standard platform height on the conventional rail network in Great Britain is 915mm above the rail. Before HS1 was completed, Eurostar trains used variable step equipment that enabled them to serve platforms of that height in this country and 760mm above rail when in France and Belgium.
As international platforms on HS1 are at 760mm, Eurostars (and other future users of HS1) now encounter a consistent height throughout their journey. If it proceeds, platforms on HS2 would also be built to 760mm. Services that operated on HS2 and the national rail network would need to use equipment similar to that used by Eurostars when they still served Waterloo.
550mm and 760mm are the standard platform heights permitted by the Technical Specification for Interoperability for Persons with Reduced Mobility, while Great Britain has a specific case which permits the use of 915mm high platforms if desired.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Government of Ireland has requested a further renegotiation of the terms of the loan extended by HM Treasury to Ireland, and if so, when that loan agreement was signed.[HL13842]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Secretary to the Treasury deposited the bilateral loan agreement in the Library of House on 10 January 2011. The agreement can be
13 Dec 2011 : Column WA253
Following the 21 July 2011 agreement by euro area member states to reduce the interest rates applied to loans from the euro area-only European Financial Stability Facility, the Chancellor of the Exchequer notified his Irish counterpart that the UK was able to cut the interest rate applied to the bilateral loan. The new rate is yet to be agreed. The Government will update Parliament on the changes to the terms of the loan agreement in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what contact they have had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland during the past six months concerning the loans they have provided to that country; what was the reason for the contact; and what was the result.[HL13919]
Lord Sassoon: Government Ministers meet regularly with their European counterparts, including Irish Ministers, to discuss a range of issues. It would not be appropriate to provide a running commentary on those discussions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Independent Review of the High Street led by Mary Portas has been published today. A copy of the review is being placed in the Library of the House and a copy will be sent to the noble Lord.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much of the £200 million pothole repair fund was allocated to each highway authority in metropolitan boroughs; and how much of this each highway authority has spent to date.[HL14182]
Earl Attlee: In recognition of the abnormal damage caused by the exceptional winter weather at the end of 2010, the Department for Transport announced in March 2011 that they were allocating £200 million of extra resource funding to local highway authorities in England for repairing potholes.
The table below provides information on how much of the £200 million was allocated to each highway authority in Metropolitan Boroughs. Each authority has published a statement on its website stating how this additional funding has or is due to be spent.
|Metropolitan Authority||Share of £200 million Allocation|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The School Food Trust has carried out research into the impact of breakfast clubs and school lunches on the ability of pupils to concentrate and learn. The trust's research shows that children are more focused in the afternoon after a good lunch, while smaller studies comparing exam results at schools with breakfast clubs to those at schools without found pupils achieved better results
13 Dec 2011 : Column WA255
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We will be announcing our initial proposals for the national curriculum shortly, following which there will be full public consultation before final decisions are made.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had or intend to have with Somaliland stakeholders on the expenditure of forty per cent of the £250 million of aid provided by the United Kingdom and allocated to the Somali region for 2011-15 on projects in Somaliland.[HL13997]
Baroness Northover: The Secretary of State for International Development (right honourable Andrew Mitchell) discussed with President Silanyo of Somaliland the UK's spending plans for the region during a visit to Hargeisa in January 2011.
UK government officials and implementing partners are in regular contact with the Somaliland authorities on specific spending plans in our main areas of development assistance (ie health, governance, wealth creation and humanitarian).
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Sudan concerning reports of the arrest and treatment of civilians from Blue Nile State, including the poet Mr Abdel-Monim Rahma.[HL13868]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are greatly concerned at reports detailing the alleged detention and mistreatment of civilian members of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (North). Our embassy in Khartoum is working urgently to ascertain the facts behind these allegations. If confirmed, we intend to raise these cases with the Government of Sudan, in concert with European Union colleagues.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following proposals made by the Independent Review of Sickness Absence, they will reintroduce tax relief on private medical insurance and private medical treatment; and how they will distinguish between the cost of treating and insuring against work-related health issues, and wider health treatments.[HL13967]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have noted the recommendations of the Independent Review of Sickness Absence. Any changes to tax policy are considered as part of the annual budget cycle.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We monitor human rights in Turkey on an ongoing basis. The European Union Annual Progress Report for 2011 is the most comprehensive and recent annual assessment of Turkey's record in human rights. The 2011 report highlighted progress in some areas, such as freedom of religion, while criticising others, particularly freedom of expression. We hope that Turkey's moves to adopt a new constitution will lead to further improvement and continue to work closely with other EU member states in addressing human rights issues in Turkey.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not made specific representations to the Government of Turkey regarding the number of students imprisoned there. Our embassy in Ankara regularly raises issues relating to freedom of expression in the context of wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts and we work closely with other EU member states in addressing human rights issues in Turkey.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many members of the staff of the UK Border Agency and its predecessor bodies have been convicted of
13 Dec 2011 : Column WA258
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The UK Border Agency at present has 21,642 staff. Over the past seven years, 23 staff have been convicted of criminal offences in connection with their official activities, an average of almost three convictions per year. The detail requested is set out in the following table:
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The UK Border Agency has a wide range of measures in place for internal and external checks on the integrity and honesty of staff. I am unable to share detail on this as to do so could compromise the prevention or detection of crime. However, general examples include pre-employment checks, national security vetting, audits and assurances of systems and procedures and the use of sophisticated data mining technology.
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