Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA227



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA227

Written Answers

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

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.

Apprenticeship to Fellowship Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

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.

Banking: Fraud

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA228

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): As there is no distinct offence of operating a money mule account, this information could only be collated at disproportionate cost.

Banking: Republic of Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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.

Businesses: Developing Countries

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

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.

Businesses: Pre-pack Administration

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA229

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.

The Government have consulted on the issue of pre-pack administrations, and will make an announcement shortly on the way forward.

Crime: DNA Database

Questions

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The police have no powers to take the DNA or fingerprints of mental health service users who have been taken into custody for their own protection.

Clause 1 of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, currently before the House, requires the immediate destruction of any such material obtained unlawfully.

Asked by Lord Ouseley

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.

Work is currently underway to carry out the work necessary to implement the DNA provisions of the Bill. Those provisions will be commenced once that work is complete.

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.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA230

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.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

Energy: Smart Meters

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA231

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.

EU: Trade Agreements

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

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.

Export Control

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

Where a request resulted in a departmental response, I have asked my officials to place those replies in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA232

Extradition Act 2003

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The information requested is not held centrally.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

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.

Finance: Interest Rates

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

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.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA233

Finance: Payday Loans

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

The Government have consulted on the future of the consumer credit regime as a whole. We are considering responses received and will be announcing a decision in due course.

Finance: Sovereign Loan Agreements

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

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".

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Lord Judd



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA234

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.

Asked by Lord Judd

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.

We continue to monitor events around Gaza. We have been clear that we condemn any actions in which civilians are hurt or killed and have called on all sides to show restraint.

Asked by Lord Judd

Lord Howell of Guildford: I refer the noble Lord to my response to PQ HL14846.

Asked by Lord Judd

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Israeli Defence Force reports that there were a total of 758 rockets fired from Gaza to Israel in 2011.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA235

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.

Asked by Lord Judd

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.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA236

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.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

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.

Government Departments: Bonuses

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

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.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA237



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA238

Performance and Special Award Data 2011-12:
DfE-FY 2011-12No. of people eligible for the performance related awardsNo. of people that received performance related awardsNo. of People earning less than £21k that received an awardAverage payment for the awardMaximum payment for the award

EA

225

50

173

1202

1300

ED

476

128

0

1309

1600

HEO

478

116

0

1601

1700

SEO

482

126

0

1702

1800

G7

594

155

0

1802

2100

G6

163

46

0

2100

2100

Deputy Director

99

24

0

8000

8000

Director

23

6

0

10000

10000

Director General

4

0

0

0

0

Permanent Secretary

1

0

0

0

0

Performance and Special Award Data 2010-11:
DfE-FY 2010-11 (on behalf of DCSF)No. of people eligible for the performance related awardsNo. of people that received performance related awardsNo. of People earning less than £21k that received a special awardAverage payment for the awardMaximum payment for the award

EA

261

129

0

538

800

EO

516

268

0

594

950

HEO

556

287

0

706

1150

SEO

527

281

0

861

1150

G7

570

321

0

1289

2000

G6

157

83

0

1530

2000

Deputy Director

88

64

0

8213

10000

Director

23

17

0

10456

12500

Director General

4

4

0

12014

15000

Permanent Secretary

1

0

0

0

0

The information for the former Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) for the years between 2007 and 2009 is not readily available from the previous department's legacy systems.

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.

Information on the public servants employed in the department's NDPBs is a matter for them and is not held centrally.

Asked by Lord Laird

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.

Government Departments: Freedom of Information

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

From next month DECC will also be publishing the details of all such requests received on its website.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA239

Guantanamo Bay

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

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.

Health: Anthrax Vaccine

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

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.

Health: Diabetes

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA240

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.

Health: Lyme Disease

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

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.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

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.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

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.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA241

Health: Neurology

Question

Asked by Baroness Harris of Richmond

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.

Improving the care of those living with long-term conditions is already monitored in domain two of the NHS outcomes framework.

Health: Pathology

Questions

Asked by Lord Mawhinney



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA242

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.

Houses of Parliament: Mail

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

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.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

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.

Infrastructure: Growing Places Fund

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

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

was launched on 18 September 2011, with indicative funding allocations for local enterprise partnerships announced in a prospectus issued on 7 November. At this point, local enterprise partnerships were invited to submit pre-qualification questionnaires by 20 December, setting out details of their governance and financial management arrangements. Returns from partnerships are currently being assessed and we hope to make a further announcement confirming allocations shortly. It will then be for local enterprise partnerships to determine which projects to support.

Insolvency

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

Iraq: Camp Ashraf

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

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

welcome steps taken by the Government of Iraq to improve conditions at Camp Liberty, which will allow voluntary relocation of a number of residents of Camp Ashraf. It is vital that both the leadership of Camp Ashraf and the Government of Iraq continue to co-operate fully with the UN to ensure relocation efforts continue. The UK has no plans to support a conference on Camp Ashraf, which is a matter for the sovereign Government of Iraq to resolve.

Israel

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

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.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

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.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA245

Justice: Welfare Benefit Cases

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

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.

The following table shows the number of welfare benefit matters with a positive outcome where advice and assistance was provided by face-to-face providers, and the duration of such cases for 2010-11.

Total funded with a positive outcomeAverage duration of those cases with a positive outcome

Appeal cases

24,275

185 days

Revision cases

5,586

136 days

Non appeal cases

37,069

132 days

The following table shows the number of welfare benefit matters with positive outcomes where advice and assistance was provided by telephone providers, and the duration of such cases for 2010-11.

Total funded with a positive outcomeAverage duration of those cases with a positive outcome

Appeal cases

4,675

120 days

Revision cases

648

78 days

Non appeal cases

12,738

75 days

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 fundedAverage duration of those cases with a positive outcome

Appeal cases

0

0

Non appeal (including revision) cases

11

247



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA246

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

Questions

Asked by Lord Beecham

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.

Asked by Lord Beecham

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.

NHS: Peterborough Primary Care Trust

Questions

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

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
YearQuarterTotalNew cases

2009-10

1

124

NA

2

147

NA

3

174

NA

4

152

NA

2010-11

1

151

11

2

198

35

3

255

57

4

319

62

2011-12

1

301

63

2

409

69

Notes: "NA" = Not available.

Source: Omnibus data return, collected for the department by the NHS Information Centre for health and social care.

The department has made no assessment of the reason for the increase in the number of people receiving CF-IC. The noble Lord may wish to raise this with Peterborough PCT.

Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to follow developments on Palestinian reconciliation closely.

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.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA248

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.

Passports

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

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.

Questions for Written Answer

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA249

Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

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.

This year's school performance tables include information on school workforce, school finance, Ofsted reports and absence. They also give access to the underlying data on which the tables are based.

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.

Parents and others using the tables website can search for schools, select the performance indicators they are interested in, and compare schools against each other and against national averages.

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.

Officials are working with relevant experts to assess and develop a methodology to anonymise the data held in the NPD.

The release of data from the NPD will be consistent with our existing policy of releasing data in accessible formats that will allow a wide range of third parties to reuse the data.

Somalia

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

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.

Somalia and Kenya

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

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.

Squatters

Questions

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA251

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.

Terrorism

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

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.

Unemployment

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Lord Laird, dated January 2012.

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.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA253

Zimbabwe

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

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.



25 Jan 2012 : Column WA254

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.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

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.


Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page