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To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the mining symposium they held on 30 June 2011, what assessment they have made of risks surrounding the mining sector in Afghanistan; and what steps are being taken to mitigate any such risks.[HL14693]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): At the mining symposium, the Afghan Minister of Mines made a commitment to develop a clear plan to address concerns around security, infrastructure and the legal and tax framework. The Department for International Development is working closely with the Ministry of Mines to strengthen its capacity to accomplish this.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the establishment of the Apprentice to Fellowship scheme for railway engineers to become professionally qualified without the need for a degree, what plans they have to extend this to other professions, such as nursing. [HL14949]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We are keen to see apprenticeships offer a route into, and where appropriate an alternative to, higher education. Higher apprenticeships have the potential to deliver high-level skills, up to degree level, tailored specifically to individual sector and business requirements. Through the Higher Apprenticeship Fund, the National Apprenticeship Service has allocated £18.7 million which will support the development of an initial 19,000 new higher apprenticeships in sectors including construction, advanced engineering, health, insurance and financial services. These will only be successful if aligned closely to the relevant professional bodies so we have encouraged the apprenticeship issuing authorities to work with the professional bodies as they develop apprenticeship frameworks.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 13 December (WA 286), how the information is held on how many money mules have been successfully prosecuted for involvement in online and telephone banking fraud.[HL14355]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in view of Allied Irish Banks being owned directly by the Government of the Republic of Ireland, whether relevant officials of the Irish Department of Finance have been vetted by the Financial Services Authority. [HL14751]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which is independent from Government. The noble Lord's inquiry has been passed to the FSA, which will write directly to him on this subject. A copy of the response will be placed in the Library of the House.
Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development (DfID) is committed to promoting responsible business conduct by multinational companies in their dealings with developing countries. DfID provides support to the National Contact Point (NCP) of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The NCP promotes voluntary principles and standards in areas such as employment and industrial relations, human rights, environment, combating bribery, competition, and taxation.
DfID also supports the UN Global Compact, the world's largest voluntary initiative for aligning business operations with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. Furthermore, DfID works in partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative to promote better working conditions in the supply chains of its member companies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have assessed the cost to small and medium-sized enterprises, and the employment consequences, of pre-pack administration; and whether they will carry out a review of the practice.[HL14972]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): In considering the impact of pre-packaged insolvency sales, the Government take into account all relevant available information. No specific assessment has been made of the cost to small and medium-sized enterprises or of the employment consequences.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to stop the practice of mental health service users in custody while accessing mental health care having their DNA and fingerprint records taken by the police.[HL14783]
Lord Henley: The DNA of all those who have not been convicted of a recordable offence and which is currently stored on the National DNA Database, will be destroyed in accordance with Clause 1 of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, except in those limited circumstances where the Bill allows for its retention.
The retention by police of records of contacts with mental health service users is vital in preventing harm and ensuring that appropriate responses are given in any future contact with such individuals as well as in the sharing of information between criminal justice agencies. There are no plans to destroy such records.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 10 January (WA 20-1), for how long it is considered necessary for identifying information on gamete donors and patients respectively to be retained.[HL14931]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that information recorded in the authority's register is defined in Section 31 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, and includes patient and donor identifying information. This information is retained permanently.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 27 October 2009 (WA 124) and by Earl Howe on 10 January 2012 (WA 21-2), what was the source of information regarding the number of oocytes used under research licence R0122 that was cited by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority chief executive in his letter (dated 9 October 2009) pursuant to Baroness Thornton's Written Answer. [HL14932]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that the information regarding the number of oocytes used under research licence R0122, cited by the authority's chief executive in his letter dated 9 October 2009 to the noble Lord, was submitted by the research centre to the authority in 2005 as part of a renewal application for a different research licence.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 10 January 2012 (WA 21-2), for what purpose the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) expect research licence applicants to provide a numerical estimate of the number of eggs or embryos to be used in a licensed research project; what is the margin of error normally accepted for such estimates; and what, if any, further clarification should be provided to the HFEA when the ultimate usage differs significantly from previous estimates. [HL14933]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that it expects research licence applicants to indicate their expected use of eggs or embryos as part of a general description of the scope of the proposed research. In granting a licence, the licence committee does not use the centre's estimate to restrict its use of eggs or embryos in the approved research. If actual usage is different to the estimate then this may be considered by a licence committee if a centre submits an application to renew the research licence.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Whilst smart metering brings significant benefits to energy customers, it will not be an offence for householders to refuse to accept a smart meter and we have made it clear that we do not expect suppliers to seek an entry warrant simply to fit smart metering equipment.
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The European Union has association agreements in place with Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, which provide for duty-free trade in a range of products, including industrial and some agricultural goods.
The European Council in December 2011 agreed negotiating mandates for deep and comprehensive free trade agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. These may in time lead to duty-free access to substantially all trade from these countries.
European Union free trade agreement negotiations have been ongoing with the Gulf Co-operation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) since 1990. They are currently stalled, subject to renewed efforts in 2012.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many freedom of information requests have been submitted to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills about (1) export control, and (2) re-export control; and whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the information provided on each topic in respect of which the request was (a) agreed to and answered in full, and (b) agreed to and answered in part, since May 2010.[HL14659]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills received 32 Freedom of Information requests on the subject of export control from May 2010 to the date of this Parliamentary Question. None of these requests for information related to the subject of re-export controls.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States under the terms of the Extradition Act 2003 (1) have been tried and acquitted, (2) remain in custody awaiting trial, and (3) have been found guilty and sentenced; and in each such case what were the crime and the sentence.[HL14904]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Home Secretary has made a decision not to review the Extradition Act 2003; whether she has sought to inform either or both Houses of Parliament of that decision; and whether they intend that the issue should be debated in either House.[HL14905]
Lord Henley: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced a review of UK extradition law and procedures to Parliament in September 2010. The review report was laid before Parliament on 18 October 2011 and is currently under careful consideration. She will announce her decision to Parliament on the recommendations in the report in due course. Extradition issues were the subject of debates in Westminster Hall and on the Floor of the House in November and December 2011 respectively.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect their proposed programme of credit easing to lead to a reduction of one percentage point in the rate of interest being charged to companies, as forecast in the Autumn Statement on 29 November 2011, or to lead to a small reduction as indicated in HM Treasury's publication of 6 December 2011 on the national loan guarantee scheme (NLGS); and when they expect the first loans to be made under the NLGS.[HL14741]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The national loan guarantee scheme, as announced in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, will lead to a reduction of loan interest rates to smaller businesses by up to 1 percentage point. The first loans are expected to be made early this year, subject to state aid approval.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legislation currently regulates payday loans; what changes have been made to that legislation since enactment; and what changes are planned in each of the next two years.[HL14805]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The consumer credit regime, including payday loans, is currently regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974, as amended by the Consumer Credit Act 2006, and by regulations, which came fully into force in February 2011, implementing the consumer credit directive.
The legislation is enforced by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which has powers to take away companies' credit licences where they fail to comply, and similarly if they fail to follow the OFT's Irresponsible Lending Guidance. The OFT has announced a forthcoming comprehensive compliance review of its guidance that will specifically target the payday lending market.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the imposition of mandatory collection action clauses into existing sovereign loan agreements as a condition of the grant of International Monetary Fund or European Union support to indebted sovereign borrowers.[HL14743]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The introduction of collective action clauses into existing sovereign loan agreements is not a condition of the grant of either International Monetary Fund or European Union financial assistance.
Article 12 of the treaty establishing the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), as signed on 11 July 2011, states that: "Collective action clauses shall be included in all new euro area government securities, with maturity above one year, from July 2013, in a standardised manner which ensures that their legal impact is identical".
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the restrictions on imports of fuel for public sale, put in place by the Government of Israel, on the people of Gaza, especially with respect to home heating, running cars, and private industry and commerce.[HL14843]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The closing of the Nahal Oz pipelines, particularly in 2008, created a severe fuel crisis in Gaza resulting in widespread electricity black-outs, hospital closures and a lack of fuel for residential cooking and heating. At the time the Government raised our concerns with the Israeli authorities repeatedly and at the highest levels. At present, Gaza is able to import most of the petrol and diesel it needs through pipelines running into Egypt. However, shortages occur from time to time.
The Government will continue to push Israel to ease restrictions on exports, construction material imports and movement of people, to improve the lives of the Gazan people. We are working alongside our European Union partners to achieve real changes on the ground.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of occasions during 2011 on which the military of Israel opened fire on civilians in the buffer zones around Gaza and of how many civilians were consequently killed and injured; and what is their estimate of the number of occasions of such fire against fishermen and of consequent casualties.[HL14846]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We do not have detailed statistics recording the number of times the Israeli military fired into Gaza. However, the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) has produced a detailed breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian conflict related casualties for the 12 months ending November 2011, which can be found on page 12 of the UN OCHA's report: http://www. ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_the_humanitarian _monitor_2011_12_15_english.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of occasions in 2011 on which the military of Israel fired into Gaza and of the consequent number of people killed and injured. [HL14847]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of occasions in 2011 on which weapons were fired from Gaza into Israel, and of the consequent number of people killed and injured in Israel.[HL14880]
The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) has produced a detailed breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian conflict-related casualties for the 12 months ending November 2011, which can be found on page 12 of the UN OCHA's report: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_the _humanitarian_monitor_2011_12_15_english.pdf.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Reliable statistics on the number of jobs lost due to current movement and access restrictions are not available. However, it is clear that unemployment in Gaza has risen. The United Nations has stated that in the second quarter of 2007, before the imposition of the restrictions, Gaza's unemployment rate stood at 26.4 per cent. This had risen to around 43 per cent by the end of 2010. We assess that unemployment in Gaza has recently fallen somewhat due to a rise in short-term construction work driven by the tunnel trade.
We have urged Israel to further ease its restrictions on Gaza. Israel's legitimate security concerns are not reinforced by these restrictions, which only serve to undermine Gaza's legitimate economy and strengthen Hamas. An improved economy and a resurgence of Gaza's pragmatic business fraternity are not only essential for the people of Gaza but are also firmly in Israel's security interests.
The UK will continue to push Israel to ease restrictions on exports, construction material imports and movement of people to improve the lives of the Gazan people. We are working alongside our European Union partners to achieve real changes on the ground.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 2 November 2011 (WA 264), why the Oxitec document Eliminating tetracycline contamination placed in the Library of the House of Lords on 1 November 2011 was redacted so that information relating to the 15 per cent survival rate of genetically modified mosquitoes in the presence of low levels of the antibiotic tetracycline was removed.[HL14893]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Information was redacted from the document on the grounds of commercial confidentiality, in line with the relevant European Union legislation. In general, the redactions related to descriptions of specific processes or techniques developed by Oxitec to ensure effective rearing of the mosquitoes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been provided with a copy of the dose-response studies on tetracycline levels and their effect on mosquitoes referred to in Oxitec's press release of 12 January; and, if so, whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House.[HL14894]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Defra has not been sent a copy of these studies. Oxitec or its partner organisations liaise with the authorities in countries which are considering use of the GM mosquitoes to control the spread of dengue fever, providing them with all relevant information.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, for each of the past five years for which figures are available and according to civil service band, how many people were eligible for performance and special bonuses in (1) the Department for Education, and (2) each of its (a) agencies, and (b) non-departmental public bodies; how many people received each type of bonus; what the average payment was for each type of bonus; and what the maximum payment was for each type of bonus.[HL14852]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education (DfE) was created on 12 May 2010. The department pays its staff non-consolidated performance-related awards as part of its total reward strategy, to help drive high performance and act as a positive incentive for staff. It also paid special awards in 2011-12 to staff earning less than £21,000. The table below shows the information which can be provided, and the awards paid in each financial year relates to the performance in the previous year. The 2010-11 figures have been updated to take account of further in-year awards.
|Performance and Special Award Data 2011-12:|
|DfE-FY 2011-12||No. of people eligible for the performance related awards||No. of people that received performance related awards||No. of People earning less than £21k that received an award||Average payment for the award||Maximum payment for the award|
|Performance and Special Award Data 2010-11:|
|DfE-FY 2010-11 (on behalf of DCSF)||No. of people eligible for the performance related awards||No. of people that received performance related awards||No. of People earning less than £21k that received a special award||Average payment for the award||Maximum payment for the award|
The department does not hold any data on executive agencies, as its first agency, the Standards and Testing Agency, was introduced on 3 October 2011, after the latest pay awards had been paid. The department's other new agencies will be introduced in April this year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, for each of the next three years for which figures are available and according to civil service band, how many people are eligible to receive performance and special bonuses in the Home Office; how many people they estimate will receive each type of bonus; what they estimate will be the average payment for each type of bonus; and what they estimate will be the maximum payment for each type of bonus.[HL14939]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The non-consolidated performance-related payment scheme for grades below the Senior Civil Service (SCS) in the Home Office and its agencies is currently being reviewed and will be subject to consultation with the trade unions. Arrangements for non-consolidated performance-related payments for the SCS are set by the Cabinet Office, following recommendations by the independent Senior Salaries Review Body, which produces its report each spring. We cannot therefore predict which, if any, non-consolidated performance-related payment schemes will operate.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House a list of all Freedom of Information requests made to the Department of Energy and Climate Change since May 2010.[HL14930]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is happy to provide a list of all requests received under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations since May 2010. Some personal data-the names of individuals-have been removed in order to comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act. The list has been taken from an operational system intended for internal monitoring purposes and, as a result, some of the descriptions are informal, working titles. A copy of this list will be placed in the Libraries of the House. DECC would be happy to provide a more detailed description on request.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they last discussed with the Government of the United States the case of Mr Shaker Aamer, the British citizen cleared for release in 2007 from Guantanamo Bay.[HL14655]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 17 January 2012 (Official Report, col. 595). Officials remain in regular dialogue with the United States Government regarding Mr Aamer's case, and most recently raised it on 12 January 2012.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 17 January (WA 123), why emergency workers are not vaccinated against possible anthrax attacks by terrorists and are vaccinated against smallpox, given that anthrax cases and subsequent deaths have occurred in the United Kingdom over the past two years whereas no clinical cases of smallpox have occurred in the world for several years.[HL14969]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Emergency workers are not given pre-exposure vaccination against anthrax, as the risk of them being occupationally exposed to anthrax from terrorism does not warrant routine vaccination. Anthrax is a rare infection in the UK and does not spread from person to person. Recent anthrax cases and subsequent deaths in the UK from the infection have been amongst injecting drug users who were exposed to anthrax-contaminated drugs. Each person acquired their infection individually through direct drug injection and occurrence of these cases has had no bearing upon the occupational risks to emergency workers from bioterrorism.
In line with the risk assessment at the time, a cohort of front-line health workers was vaccinated in 2005 to deal with any initial suspected or confirmed case of smallpox if it were to occur. The department's smallpox policy is currently under review.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they propose to improve diabetes services following the National Diabetes Audit Mortality Analysis' finding that there were 24,000 preventable deaths in young adults in 2007-08.[HL14817]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Poor management of diabetic patients such as a failure to offer basic healthcare checks, advice on lifestyle or advice on taking medication appropriately can increase the risk of death from critically high or low blood sugar, cardiovascular disease or kidney failure. We support the National Diabetes Information Service and NHS Diabetes in ensuring that local services have clinical audit data that allow them to see how they compare to others and where improvements to services can be made.
NHS Diabetes has written to those primary care trusts with high diabetes mortality offering help in improving these outcomes. A suite of tools and materials are also available to local healthcare organisations to help drive improvements and thus reduce avoidable deaths.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Lyme Unit of the Health Protection Agency does not publish full details of its in-house immunoblots including the name, origin and specificity data of the antigens used and the criteria used to determine whether a result is positive, together with all the evidence from the peer-reviewed literature validating those criteria.[HL14896]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Lyme Unit of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) does not use in-house produced immunoblots in the investigation of Lyme and has not done so since 2005. The HPA's Lyme borreliosis unit currently uses commercially produced and CE-marked Trinity Biotech EU Lyme western blots as supplementary (second stage) tests in the investigation of suspected Lyme borreliosis.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Lyme Unit of the Health Protection Agency regard the 41 internal antigen on the Mikrogen immunoblot as highly specific or non-specific for the detection of Lyme disease.[HL14897]
Earl Howe: The Lyme Unit of the health protection agency (HPA) does not use Mikrogen immunoblots. The HPA currently uses commercially produced and CE-marked Trinity Biotech European Union Lyme western blots as supplementary (second stage) tests in the investigation of suspected Lyme borreliosis.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Dstl (or its predecessor organisations) has not looked at the potential for Lyme disease to be used as a biological weapon and has never had a programme of research to evaluate either the causative bacteria or its potential as a weapon.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how their new long-term conditions strategy will address improvements in the quality and accessibility of neurological services, in the light of the National Audit Office's recent report Services for people with neurological conditions.[HL14871]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We are currently working to produce a generic national outcomes strategy for long-term conditions. This strategy will look at all of the aspects that impact on the lives of people with long-term conditions, and outline how the key players (government departments, local authorities, charities and individuals) can act in future in order to improve outcomes for those with long-term conditions.
We will be working with the third sector, patient and carer groups, the National Health Service, social services and others to ensure that the strategy takes account of their views, and is a meaningful, relevant document. Third sector neurological organisations will be invited to engagement events surrounding the strategy, and officials working on the strategy will meet with the neurological leadership group, and the Neurological Alliance.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Ministers or strategic health authorities determine what should be the number of pathology case investigations an NHS hospital is required to perform in order to qualify for an NHS contract to supply pathology services.[HL14773]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, when deciding if an NHS hospital should be given a contract from, or on behalf of, its strategic health authority to supply pathology services, the guiding principle is how many pathology investigations the hospital is presently contracted to supply or how many it actually supplies in practice.[HL14774]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many pathology service providers in the East of England undertake 30,000 or more investigations annually; and what are (1) their names, (2) their locations, (3) the number of pathology investigations contracted, and (4) the number actually provided, for the most recent convenient period.[HL14776]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department supported strategic health authorities (SHAs) in planning for the reconfiguration of National Health Service pathology services through the Quality Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) programme following Lord Carter of Coles' independent review. All SHAs have now included pathology within their integrated QIPP plans. The local NHS now needs to determine how pathology services will be delivered based on an assessment of local needs and priorities. Regarding pathology service providers in the East of England, the information requested is not collected centrally. The noble Lord may therefore wish to contact NHS Midlands and East directly.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): In total, 2,691,576 items of mail were received in the Palace of Westminster in 2011. Approximately 25 per cent per cent (672,894) of these items were destined for the House of Lords. These figures do not include parcels, courier items or internal mail.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): We have announced our intention to revitalise the right to buy scheme by significantly increasing discounts.
In our consultation paper Reinvigorating Right to Buy and one for one replacement, published on 22 December 2011, we propose to raise the upper limit on the right to buy discount entitlement to £50,000 throughout England.
The proposal applies to those tenants who currently have a right to buy or preserved right to buy. There are no plans to extend the right to buy to housing association tenants who have the right to acquire or to tenants without a right to purchase.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Growing Places Fund to support infrastructure projects to unlock wider housing and economic development
25 Jan 2012 : Column WA243
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Any person who acts as an administrator must be authorised to act as an insolvency practitioner. The Government have engaged on a public consultation on the regulation of insolvency practitioners following a review of the corporate insolvency market by the Office of Fair Trading.
The Government's response to that consultation was announced on 20 December 2011, and explained that the Government will explore, together with interested parties and the regulators of insolvency practitioners, how best to strengthen and simplify the processes for handling complaints, including those relating to excessive fee charging. We also intend to bring forward proposals, when legislative time permits, to ensure that the powers of the Secretary of State as oversight regulator are strengthened.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reliance they place on the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 25 December 2011 between the Iraqi Government and the United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative, Martin Kobler; whether that memorandum has been breached by the recent actions of Nouri al-Maliki regarding Camp Ashraf residents; and whether they will support calls for an international conference to discuss issues relating to Camp Ashraf.[HL14956]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have welcomed signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Iraq and the United Nations (UN) as a welcome step towards peaceful solution to the issue of Camp Ashraf. We expect the Government of Iraq to honour their commitments under the terms of the MoU. We also
25 Jan 2012 : Column WA244
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We do not have statistics recording the number of people killed or injured in Israel due to terrorist action. However, the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) has produced a detailed breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian conflict related casualties for the 12 months ending November 2011, which can be found on page 12 of the UN OCHA's report: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_the _humanitarian_monitor_2011_12_15_english.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are making representations to the Government of Israel about the recent vandalising of the mosque in Deir Istiya, near Salfit in the West Bank, and the associated destruction of three Palestinian-owned vehicles, allegedly by Israeli settlers.[HL14837]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are concerned by recent incidents of settler violence, particularly deliberately provocative attacks by extremist settlers on places of worship, designed to aggravate tensions.
Officials at our embassy in Tel Aviv have yet to discuss these specific incidents with the Israeli authorities, but the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) raised our concerns over settler violence with the Israeli authorities during his visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories between 8 and 10 January. He welcomed the clear condemnation of extremist settler attacks by Israeli leaders, and the stated intention of the Israeli Government to bring the perpetrators to justice. The package of measures announced by Prime Minister Netanyahu in response to settler violence was a welcome step forward. Mr Burt looked forward to seeing the results of these measures, and to seeing those behind these crimes punished under law.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of welfare benefit cases finalised under a Legal Services Contract have had a positive outcome for the claimant; of these how many (1) were appeal cases , (2) were revision cases, and (3) fell into other welfare benefit categories; and what was the average time taken for each of the above case types to be determined.[HL14791]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Legal Services Commission provides advice and assistance, via both face-to-face providers and telephone providers, in welfare benefit cases. In 2010-11, across both face-to-face and telephone providers, the proportion of cases (completed matters) with a positive outcome for the claimant was 89 per cent.
|Total funded with a positive outcome||Average duration of those cases with a positive outcome|
|Total funded with a positive outcome||Average duration of those cases with a positive outcome|
In addition to advice and assistance, legal aid may be provided in welfare benefit matters under a certificate in more complicated cases that may proceed to court. In 2010-11 44 per cent of these cases had a successful outcome. The following table shows the number of these cases, and the duration of such cases, for 2010-11. It is not possible for the Legal Services Commission to disaggregate revision cases from other welfare benefit cases in certificated cases.
|Total funded||Average duration of those cases with a positive outcome|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill on the budget of each government department; and whether those estimates have been agreed by each relevant department.[HL14632]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The impact assessment published alongside the response to consultation lays out our best estimates of the costs and benefits associated with the reform programme. Systemic costs, including those arising for other government departments, were considered as part of both the policy development and clearance processes during which extensive engagement with other government departments was conducted. Ultimately, any costs arising will be determined by behavioural responses to the changes, which cannot be predicted with certainty. We will be conducting a post-implementation review of the reforms three to five years after Royal Assent, and this will consider the question of systemic impacts of the reforms.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered the analysis in the recent King's College London report, Unintended Consequences: the cost of the Government's Legal Aid Reforms, of the estimated knock-on costs to other departments of their proposals in Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill; and whether, and if so when, they will publish their response.[HL14873]
Lord McNally: We are currently considering the King's College report, about which we have a range of concerns and observations. Officials have arranged to meet with the author of the report along with Law Society officials in February to discuss its content, after which we will consider the question of responding publicly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 10 January (WA 61), what is the breakdown in the figures for people in receipt of continuing healthcare in Peterborough Primary Care Trust in (1) 2009-10, (2) 2010-11, and (3) 2011-12, between new cases and continuing cases where a person has been reassessed to need continuing health care.[HL14900]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 10 January (WA 61), what has accounted for the increase in the
25 Jan 2012 : Column WA247
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The following table shows the total number of people in Peterborough Primary Care Trust (PCT) receiving continuing healthcare (CHC) in each quarter from 2009-10 to quarter 2, 2011-12 and the number of these who are newly receiving CHC. Quarter 2, 2011-12, is the latest available information. Information about those people reassessed as needing CHC is not collected.
|Number of people in Peterborough PCT receiving CHC|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the April 2011 accord between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas which provides for transitional government and for elections in May 2012.[HL14917]
In May 2011, the UK supported the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union welcoming the agreement by Fatah and Hamas to form an independent technocratic government that would be committed to the political programme outlined by President Abbas in his 4 May speech in Cairo. The two factions have not yet been able to agree on such a government. The Government support the holding of elections in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. We look to all parties-the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Israeli Government-to facilitate such elections in the areas under their control and to help ensure a free and fair electoral process.
It is important that any new Palestinian Authority should be composed of independent figures, uphold the principle of non-violence, be committed to a negotiated two-state solution, and accept previous agreements of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. We have made it consistently clear that we will engage any Palestinian Government that show through their words and actions that they are committed to these principles.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website suggests it is possible for first-time applications by British nationals for British passports in Yemen to be applied for at the regional passport processing centre in Paris through making additional payment.[HL14920]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The British embassy in Yemen is currently closed to the public owing to the security situation and passport services have been suspended since May 2011. First-time applicants for a full validity British passport must apply in person to the British embassy in Amman, Jordan.
First time applications must be submitted, in person, to Amman, with the correct payment and documents. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: http://ukinfrance.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/passports/how-to-apply/yemen advises that applying direct to Paris will cause unnecessary delays and will require the applicant to make an additional payment to return the application by courier to Amman.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what data about written answers to parliamentary questions is provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to the Leader of the House of Lords; and whether they will place such information in the Library of the House.[HL14849]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) provides the office of the Leader of the House of Lords with information relating to written Parliamentary Questions answered on a monthly basis. In the present Session of Parliament 99 per cent of BIS Ministers' answers to written parliamentary questions have been provided to Members of the House of Lords within 10 working days. The Government have no plans to place additional statistics in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 14 September 2011 (WA 76), when in 2012 they plan to open up access to datasets, linked to unique pupil numbers, to enable parents and other groups to produce their own league tables; and what steps they are taking to ensure that the data are available in an accessible, user-friendly way.[HL14770]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department is committed to making it easier to locate, analyse and interpret education data. We have made a number of specific commitments to make education data more transparent and to ensure that schools, parents and other members of the public have the information they need to inform their decisions in respect of education.
The enhanced performance tables website enables users to look at attainment and progress in greater detail eg the comparative progress made by pupils with differing levels of prior attainment (low, middle, high ability bands); or to compare the attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils (ie those on free school meals and looked after children) with that of other pupils.
In addition to basic information on the number and percentage of pupils in a cohort achieving the English Baccalaureate, the tables also give this information for each prior attainment group and disadvantaged pupils and will also give a breakdown of entries and achievements in each subject area.
We are also working to provide improved access to even more education data, including anonymised data from the department's National Pupil Database (NPD) so it can be used to support a wide range of purposes from June 2012.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 21 December 2011 (WA 391-2), who has been
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As we noted previously, we have invited Governments and multilateral organisations that are active and influential on Somalia, as well as representatives from Somalia.
We are pleased to say that we have secured very senior attendance from representatives from the region (for example Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda) and the international community (for example Turkey, Qatar, Nigeria, Sweden, and the European Union) alongside a host of Somali representatives; as well as the African Union and United Nations Secretary-General.
We have invited Somaliland to attend the London conference on Somalia. We are following up the invitation with discussions with the Somaliland authorities, working to find a basis for their attendance that is acceptable to them and to us. We very much hope that President Silanyo will attend: Somaliland has much useful experience to share of creating relative stability in the region.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will invite the United Nations to consider giving Kenyan Armed Forces in Somalia, which are part of the African Union Mission, authority to occupy the port of Kismayo, and to grant them United Nations logistical support for this purpose. [HL14922]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Whilst Kenya has stated its intention to rehat its troops under African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the African Union has welcomed this, Kenyan forces have not yet joined the African Union Mission in Somalia. Once they have formally joined AMISOM, their operations will be guided by the mandate for AMISOM, as authorised by the United Nations (UN). As part of AMISOM they will receive logistical support from the UN to carry out this mandate.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Due to the clandestine nature of squatting, estimates on the number of squatters in residential and non-residential buildings vary. Responses to the consultation Options for Dealing with Squatting suggested a figure in the region of 20,000 squatters, but this figure is difficult to verify. Although we hold data on the number of possession orders granted by the courts, these do not provide a reliable indicator of the number of properties that are squatted in which are subject to repossession or the number of evictions which follow a court order.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether facilities exist in the United Kingdom to identify the nature of a terrorist attack using biological weapons in the period between the time of the attack and the emergence of clinical symptoms in victims. [HL14970]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Government have a multilayered approach to protecting the public from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. A key element of this approach is to ensure that the fire and rescue service and police forces have equipment to detect and identify CBRN materials at the scene of an incident. A range of equipment is available to rapidly detect the types of chemical that we believe terrorists might want to use for a CBRN attack. Many of these chemicals have rapid effects that would produce symptoms before equipment could be used. Rapid identification of biological materials at the scene of an incident is potentially more challenging and, in general, biological agents take longer to cause symptoms.
Although the specific number of devices .provided to the emergency services is not held centrally, CBRN detection equipment is predominantly distributed at 18 priority sites around the UK. Additionally, the UK's National Network of Laboratories provides a rapid analytical capability to support our response to CBRN incidents. We do not publish specific details about these capabilities or locations for reasons of national security because this might assist terrorist planning.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 10 January (WA 86-7), whether their interpretation of the 1982 International Labour Organisation
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As Director General of the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 10 January (WA 86-7), whether their interpretation of the 1982 International Labour Organisation definition of unemployment that full-time students should be regarded as unemployed if they are also currently available for work is followed in other European Union countries; whether the status of full-time student enables such a person to be available for employment; and whether they distinguish between Labour Force Surveys conducted during term-time and during vacations when estimating the number of unemployed full-time students ( HL14998).
The statistical office for the European Union, Eurostat, produces harmonised unemployment rates for individual EU Member States, the euro area and the EU. These unemployment rates are based on the internationally agreed definition of unemployment established by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The measurement is based on a harmonised source, the European Union Labour Force Survey, conducted by the 27 Member States of the European Union in accordance with Council Regulation (EEC) No. 577/98 of 9 March 1998.
Unemployment is measured by the Labour Force Survey from responses given by persons currently out of work. Answering yes to the following questions: "were you looking for any kind of paid work at any time in the past four weeks" and "if a job or place on a government scheme had been available, would you have been able to start within two weeks?" satisfies the ILO definition for unemployment. These answers are self-reported and apply regardless of the individual's non-economic activity, educational status or the amount of work or hours sought.
The Labour Force Survey is conducted quarterly and spans time periods during and outside term-time. Consequently estimates of unemployed full-time students sourced from the survey are seasonally adjusted.
The main aim of seasonal adjustment is to filter out usual seasonal fluctuations and typical calendar effects within the movements of the time series under review. This accounts for recurring seasonal fluctuations, such as unemployment for full-time students increasing during vacation time. These seasonally adjusted estimates are published monthly in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin. The unadjusted estimates are also published on the ONS website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether United Kingdom Government loans to Zimbabwe in the 1990s were used to finance the Zimbabwean police service while it was engaged in internal repression, as implied in the recent Jubilee Debt Campaign UK report Uncovering Zimbabwe's debt: The case for a democratic solution to the unjust debt burden. [HL14574]
Baroness Northover: The Government of Zimbabwe took a loan in 1998 to procure 1,500 Landrovers from the UK for use by the Zimbabwe Republic Police Force. In order to soften the financing, the UK Government underwrote the loan of just over £15 million. The Department for International Development signed a grant agreement with the Government of Zimbabwe under the Aid and Trade Provision to meet 35 per cent of the cost of the Landrovers, spare parts and UK-sourced technical support for management and maintenance.
In May 2000 the Landover supply project was suspended on the grounds of concerns at the way in which the vehicles were being used and as a result of a default by the Government of Zimbabwe on its loan repayment obligations. At that time 1,049 Landrovers had been supplied.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reports they have received on the promotion in Zimbabwe of Three Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, who allegedly co-ordinated "Operation Mavhotera Papi (where did you vote?)", and whether they have had any international discussions regarding the possible consequences of this promotion.[HL14957]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware that Douglas Nyikayaramba has been promoted to Major-General, apparently without consultation with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. We have not had international conversations on the possible implications of this.
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