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14 Feb 2012 : Column WA143



14 Feb 2012 : Column WA143

Written Answers

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Abortion

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development (DfID) directly supports the provision of non-discriminatory medical care to victims of rape in a range of countries, including those affected by conflict. The UK Government are committed to reducing maternal mortality in the developing world, and one of the leading causes of maternal death is unsafe abortion. DfID's position is that safe abortion reduces the recourse to unsafe abortion and thus saves lives. Women and adolescent girls must have the right to make their own decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and well-being. The World Health Organisation estimates that nearly 70,000 women die each year following an unsafe abortion and we are committed to bringing this number down, including in situations of armed conflict.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, DfID's contribution to the humanitarian pooled fund ensured that more than 6,000 survivors of sexual violence received support, including medical care, psycho-social support and economic reintegration assistance in 2010. DfID's health programme also provides medical support to survivors of sexual violence, treating 3,119 survivors in Maniema province in 2011. Meanwhile, our security sector accountability and police reform programme works to support the DRC Government, police and civil society to develop practical approaches towards improving prevention, reporting, investigation and victim support. In Sierra Leone, DfID funds family support units that support large numbers of women-including girls under 15-who have been victims of sexual assault.

The July 2011 DfID practice paper (available on the DfID website) clearly outlines the UK policy position on safe and unsafe abortion in developing countries.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): While there are currently a number of gaps for both Merlin observers and aircrew, within the Royal Navy Merlin anti-submarine warfare (ASW) force, the training pipeline is full and will remain so until completion of the conversion to Merlin Mk2 in April 2013. Where there are Royal Air Force ASW aircrew currently serving within the Royal Navy ASW Merlin force then, where possible, they will either continue to be engaged or, if wishing to do so, will be considered for transfer to the Royal Navy. There are currently no wider plans to engage ex-maritime patrol aircraft aircrew in the Royal Navy's ASW force.

The Royal Air Force has also embarked on the Seedcorn initiative whereby their qualified aircrew conduct one-way exchanges with a variety of Commonwealth and allied forces. This initiative is aimed at sustaining the Ministry of Defence's ability to operate high-end fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft, whilst maintaining the highly perishable specialist skill-sets of its personnel. The Royal Air Force has also deployed maritime-experienced aircrew to other Royal Air Force aircraft types where their generic intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance skills can be exploited.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Project Merlin was an aggregate commitment based on gross lending. The banks had collectively to ensure that they met their commitment at the end of the year.

The Bank of England published the final Merlin results on 13 February 2012. In 2011, UK banks lent over £214 billion to British businesses-a 20 per cent increase compared with 2010, exceeding the overall lending target by £24 billion. Figures also show a 13 per cent increase in SME lending compared with 2010, with SME lending rising to over £74 billion.



14 Feb 2012 : Column WA145

The Government did not receive information regarding pricing or fees charged by the banks as part of the Project Merlin agreement.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The Government remain committed to Sir David Walker's principles and recommendations. The European Commission's capital requirements directive (CRD4) proposals contain a proposal for additional regulations on remuneration disclosure that are very close to the Walker-based disclosure principle.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: UK Financial Investments regularly engages with a range of shareholder bodies, including members of the Institutional Investor Committee, on topics such as how to ensure remuneration structures encourage long-term sustainable performance.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Sassoon: The Government remain committed to Sir David Walker's principles and recommendations. The Commission's capital requirements directive (CRD4) proposals contain a proposal for additional regulations on remuneration disclosure that are very close to the Walker based disclosure principle.



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Banking: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have two aims in setting remuneration levels for state-owned enterprises. They need to ensure that these organisations are effectively managed and consequently accept that there may be prevailing market rates to recruit and retain suitably-qualified management. At the same time, the Government exercise considerable pay restraint. To ensure accountability in this matter, the Chief Secretary signs-off any appointments for those earning over £142,500 in areas under ministerial control.

Stephen Hester's employment contract is between him and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as his employer. The Government's shareholdings in RBS and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) are managed on a commercial and arm's-length basis by UK Financial Investments (UKFI), a company that is wholly owned by the Government. UKFI engages as a shareholder to ensure that incentives are based on long-term, sustainable performance and will seek to ensure that neither bank pays any more than the minimum necessary.

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has recently announced proposals aimed at improving the alignment of risk and reward in executive pay. These proposals include the expectation that in the future, remuneration committees will have to explain why they have used specific benchmarks and how they have taken into account employee earnings, including pay differentials, when setting pay.

Debt

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Outstanding liabilities of the National Loans Fund (NLF) are set out in the table below:



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Actual outstanding net Liabilities of the NLF £ billion 2Money GDP £ billion% of Money GDPNLF Liabilities in 2010-11 Prices £ billion% of 2010-11 GDP

2001-20021

435

1,033

42%

544

37%

2002-2003

455

1,090

42%

555

38%

2003-2004

503

1,156

44%

601

41%

2004-2005

531

1,215

44%

617

42%

2005-2006

567

1,272

45%

645

44%

2006-2007

602

1,346

45%

663

45%

2007-2008

661

1,427

46%

712

48%

2008-2009

1,125

1,417

79%

1,176

80%

2009-2010

1,272

1,408

90%

1,307

88%

2010-2011

1,344

1,478

91%

1,344

91%

1 For 2001-02 NLF liabilities were calculated on a cash basis. Subsequent years are on an accruals basis.

2 NLF liabilities do not equate to the national debt.

However, the national debt is not defined by the outstanding net liabilities of the NLF but is instead measured as public sector net debt (PSND). While the NLF lends to and borrows from other parts of the public sector, PSND is a calculation of the net debt of the whole of the public sector after eliminating intra-public sector balances. Figures for PSND are published jointly by HM Treasury and the Office for National Statistics in the monthly "Public Sector Finances Statistical Bulletin", which can be found on the Office for National Statistics website: www.ons.gov.uk.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: President Kabila has been sworn in. Most of the opposition has accepted the result in practice. We will continue to call for all allegations of fraud, election-related violence and intimidation to be treated with the utmost seriousness, and for improvements to be made to the electoral process.

Economy

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Monetary Policy Committee sets monetary policy, including quantitative easing, through the asset purchase facility (APF), in order to meet the 2 per cent inflation target over the medium term.

As the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out in his letter to the Governor on 9 February 2012, monetary policy continues to have a critical role in supporting the economy as the Government deliver on their commitment to fiscal consolidation. It remains the primary tool for responding to changes in the economic outlook.

The Bank of England analyses the effects of quantitative easing and developments in the money supply in its published reports, including inflation reports and quarterly bulletins. The next inflation report will be published on Wednesday 15 February 2012.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The UK's monetary policy framework includes an inflation target, not a money supply target. The monetary policy framework seeks to deliver low and stable inflation through an inflation target of a 2 per cent annual increase in the consumer prices index.

At the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a package of interventions of up to £21 billion to ease credit for businesses that do not have ready access to capital markets. This package includes the National Loan Guarantee Scheme and the Business Finance Partnership Scheme.

The Bank of England analyses the effects of quantitative easing and developments in the money supply in its published reports, including inflation reports and quarterly bulletins. The next inflation report will be published on Wednesday 15 February.

Elections: Mailings

Questions

Asked by Lord Adonis



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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The cost of delivering the candidates mailings for the 2010 UK parliamentary election was £28.7 million.

Asked by Lord Adonis

Lord McNally: The cost of delivering the candidates mailings for the 2009 European parliamentary election was £35.4 million.

Energy: Gas Flaring

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government welcome the efforts of the World Bank's Global Gas Flaring Reduction initiative to bring together Governments of oil-producing countries, state-owned companies and major international oil companies to reduce gas flaring by sharing global best practices and implementing country programmes. The UK is involved through the European Union, which is a partner of this initiative and has long-standing and effective controls on gas flaring and venting in the UK or on the UK continental shelf.

Energy: Smart Meters

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): During phase 1 of the Smart Meters Programme (which ran from December 2009 and March 2011), the Department for Energy and Climate Change held a number of consultations, which culminated in the publication of the government response to the prospectus consultation in March 2011. This set out the overall strategy and timetable for the rollout of smart meters. Since phase 2 of the programme commenced in April 2011, we have consulted on a number of issues, including the rollout obligations on energy suppliers, the technical specifications for smart metering equipment and the establishment of the Data and Communications Company. A number of other consultations are due to be published shortly, including on the framework for data access and privacy and the consumer engagement strategy.



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EU: Humanitarian Aid Corps

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

Baroness Northover: The Government have assessed the preliminary proposals for the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps (EVHAC) and continue to play an active role in the European Commission's consultation process. The Government have emphasised in particular that inexperienced volunteers should not be put in dangerous environments. The Commission will table legislative proposals later this year that set out detailed standards for the EVHAC. When these are released the Government will be able to assess their compliance with UK standards and practices in detail.

The European Commission's consultation ran from February to May last year and British aid agencies were free to provide input alongside the Government. The UK arms of Save the Children and Voluntary Service Overseas have been selected by the European Commission to run two of the three EVHAC pilots and as a consequence are particularly involved in the project's design.

EU: Membership Costs

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): No such costs are paid by Her Majesty's Government and are therefore not included in published figures on UK contributions to the EU Budget.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge



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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave Lord Judd on 9 February 2012 about reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah (Official Report, col. 364).

The quartet has set out clearly that Hamas must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements. Hamas must make credible movement towards these conditions, which remain the benchmark against which its intentions should be judged before direct contact will he made.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We are firmly focused on the need to improve the situation in Gaza and continue to call for the full implementation of the relaxation of access restrictions for Gaza that Israel announced in June 2010. Together with our European Union partners we call for a sustained increase in the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons from and to the Gaza Strip. Israel's legitimate security concerns are not reinforced by these restrictions, which only serve to undermine Gaza's legitimate economy and to strengthen Hamas.

We believe that imposing sanctions on Israel or supporting anti-Israeli boycotts would lessen our influence, not increase it. We therefore strongly oppose both boycotts and sanctions directed at Israel.

Government Departments: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): In the past two years DECC has received one complaint about a civil servant from a member of the public. An investigation was undertaken by the head of the policy team concerned, who decided that the complaint was unfounded and wrote to the complainant to explain the decision and detail how they could escalate their complaint if they wished. No compensation was paid.

Health: Diabetes

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Courtown



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The UK National Screening Committee, which advises Ministers and the National Health Service in all four countries about all aspects of screening policy, recommends that all people with diabetes aged 12 and over should be offered screening for diabetic retinopathy on an annual basis. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance also recommends annual screening.

Research is currently being undertaken to examine whether variable screening intervals can be introduced. The NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme is working closely with other United Kingdom countries to evaluate existing data to determine whether the screening interval could safely be increased for some people with diabetes. However, it will take a number of years before the evidence base and technology to support variable screening intervals will be available.

Asked by The Earl of Courtown

Earl Howe: We encourage everyone diagnosed with diabetes to ask for and receive structured education and support as part of their care. People living with diabetes usually have contact with a healthcare professional for only a few hours per year. The rest of the time they care for and manage their diabetes themselves.

Local National Health Service organisations are responsible for providing comprehensive, high-quality and safe diabetes services appropriate to their local populations, including providing information and education to people with diabetes about their condition and how to manage it. There are a number of useful and effective education and self-help programmes around England for patients to join.

Guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) emphasise the importance of patient education. This is further reflected in the NICE quality standard for diabetes, published in 2011. The 2011-12 NHS operating framework also signals the need to commission patient structured education for people newly diagnosed with diabetes and at appropriate points in their life as their condition progresses.

Health: International Staff Recruitment

Question

Asked by Lord Crisp



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Baroness Northover: The UK endorses the World Health Organisation global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel and implements it through the UK code of practice. The UK code governs the international recruitment of healthcare professionals. Its underlying principles are that developing nations that are experiencing shortages of healthcare staff should not be targeted for active recruitment unless there is an agreement with their Government allowing recruitment. The recommendations of the UK's health-worker migration policy initiative to promote self-sufficiency, effective development assistance and innovative policies for health-worker migration among member states are being taken forward.

The Department of Health's data show a 75 per cent decline of registrations of all international nurses from 2004 to 2011 and a 9 per cent decline between 2008 and 2011. The numbers of doctors in the NHS with a primary medical qualification from outside the European Economic Area has remained relatively static between 2006 and 2009, despite overall doctor numbers increasing by 10 per cent.

1 Due to a change in methodology the data available for 2010 are not comparable to earlier data.

Health: Pain Management

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The content and standard of healthcare training is the responsibility of the independent regulatory bodies. Through their role as the custodians of quality standards in education and practice, these organisations are committed to ensuring that healthcare professionals are equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to deal with the problems and conditions they will encounter in practice, including where appropriate pain management. Once established, a key role of Health Education England will be to develop strong working relationships with the professions and the independent professional regulators in order to promote quality in education and training and responsiveness to innovation and changing service models.

Training in the principles of pain management already form part of the pre-registration and postgraduate curricula of relevant health professionals. In the specific case of general medical practitioners, the possible need for some further initiative to improve skills in chronic pain management is being considered by the Royal College of General Practitioners as one of its current clinical priorities.



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Insurance: Identity Theft

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It is for consumers to assess the costs and benefits of purchasing insurance to cover the risks they face.

Firms selling identity theft insurance contracts are required to comply with the Financial Services Authority's high level principles for businesses and, in particular, with "treating customers fairly" and with the insurance conduct of business rules for the sale of general insurance contracts. There are specific requirements to ensure that consumers are provided with appropriate and timely information to enable them to make an informed choice about the arrangements proposed. Appropriate information may include details of policy cover, limitations and the price.

Insurance intermediaries are also able to assist in identifying the demands and needs of consumers and in looking across the market to find suitable insurance products to meet them.

Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by Baroness Cox

Baroness Northover: The UK has played a leading role in supporting an effective and co-ordinated humanitarian response in South Sudan, including meeting the needs of people displaced from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile into South Sudan. We are providing assistance through our contribution to the 2011 Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) for Sudan and South Sudan -which has been extended until April 2012. In addition, in December 2011 the Secretary of State for International Development approved the first tranche (£17 million) of a two-year package of support for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the 2012-13 Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) in South Sudan. Indicative impacts from the 2012 UK support to South Sudan include primary healthcare for 204,000 people; the provision of food and agricultural supplies to 134,500 people; clean water and sanitation for 163,000 people; and treatment for 113,000 malnourished children. We do not have a breakdown of figures specifically for refugees from Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.



14 Feb 2012 : Column WA155

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells



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Baroness Northover: The proportion of aid, disbursed by the Department for International Development to multilateral organisations delivering water, sanitation and hygiene activities, for the past three full financial years is as follows:

2008-092009-102010-11
DfID contribution to org. (£m)Imputed WASH spend (£m)DfID contribution to org. (£m)Imputed WASH spend (£m)DfID contribution to org. (£m)Imputed WASH spend (£m)

AfDB

139

11.9

139

11.9

139

11.9

EC

1,154

27.9

1,186

28.7

1,347

32.6

World Bank

574

25.8

560

25.2

927

41.7

UNICEF

17

0.7

22

0.9

24

1.0

Total

66.3

66.7

87.2

Figures for the 2011-12 financial year have not yet been published.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

Baroness Northover: Over the past five years, the Department for International Development's (DfID) bilateral spending on water, sanitation and hygiene has increased from £49.6 million to £84.5 million in 2010-11; an increase of 70 per cent. The figures for 2011-12 have not yet been published.

Any additional commitments will be dependent on the results of the ongoing review of DfID's water and sanitation programme.

Piracy

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Anti-piracy patrols and operations safeguarding British and international shipping in the Indian Ocean are funded from within the Ministry of Defence's budget.

Police: Cars

Questions

Asked by Lord Hoyle

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The National Association of Police Fleet Managers and the Home Office Commercial Directorate work together in partnership and the sourcing options for police vehicles are discussed regularly.

To supply a complete list of these meetings would incur a disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Hoyle

Lord Henley: Discussions about the procurement of police cars have involved regular meetings with representatives from the National Association of Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM), the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), suppliers, the Government Procurement Service and forces.

To supply a complete list of these meetings would incur a disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Hoyle

Lord Henley: Discussion on the procurement of police cars has involved regular meetings with representatives from National Association of Police Fleet Manager (NAPFM), the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), suppliers, the Government Procurement Service and forces.

To supply a complete list of these meetings would incur a disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Hoyle



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Lord Henley: Hyundai, along with a number of other manufacturers, was awarded a place on the police vehicle purchase framework following a fully compliant EU tender process. This award was based upon objective criteria that included the ability to meet police technical requirements and the delivery of value for money.

Asked by Lord Hoyle

Lord Henley: We have engaged with UK suppliers widely throughout the UK and suppliers have had opportunities to promote their goods and services through events such as the National Association of Police Fleet Managers' annual show.

However, any contract must be awarded on the basis that it best meets police technical requirements and delivers value for money.

Social Care: Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department collected information from primary care trusts in September 2011 to understand how the £648 million transfer was progressing and on which services it was being used. The information suggests that the money is being used on a wide range of services. A full breakdown of this can be found in the National Health Service publication The Quarter: Quarter 2, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.

Tunisia

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Northover: The UK Government are already supporting opportunities to promote trade and investment in Tunisia. For example, UK Trade and Investment is organising an Arab spring one year on: business opportunities in north Africa conference that will take place in London on 8 March. Although this is a regional

14 Feb 2012 : Column WA158

conference, it will provide an opportunity for businesses and key trade bodies to hear about trade and investment opportunities in Tunisia and learn from businesses already active in the region.

In addition, the Department for International Development is funding a body to co-ordinate donor support for private sector development in the Middle East and north Africa region. This body, which is hosted by the African Development Bank in Tunis, brings together bilateral donors and 10 international institutions including the Islamic Development Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank, to identify opportunities for joint investment, technical assistance and knowledge sharing.

Tunisia and Libya

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Tunisian and Libyan Governments have made clear their desire to work closely together. The UK strongly supports this approach: to be effective co-operation must be led by the parties themselves. Libya and Tunisia already have good relations and are seeking to deepen both political and economic co-operation. There have been a number of recent visits at the highest levels, including the visit of the National Transitional Council Chairman Abdul Jalil to Tunis in December. Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib to Tunis and Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki to Tripoli both in January.

UK Financial Investments Ltd

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): UK Financial Investment's (UKFI) total cost to public funds is available in the UKFI annual report and accounts. The total cost to 31 March 2011 is £7,689,000.

The costs of civil servants seconded to UKFI cannot be released as disclosure may enable individuals to be identified. Civil servants remain on their departmental payroll, and UKFI reimburse the departments for all employee and employer-related costs for the individuals.



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The fees paid to outside consultants and advisors total £2,642,000 up to 31 March 2011.

Water Management: Overseas

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development is in frequent contact with its partners in the Sanitation and Water for All initiative, and will remain so in the run-up the high-level meeting in April. We have organised a preparatory meeting for European Union and wider donor partners, to take place later this month, to encourage ministerial participation in the meeting and to discuss how we ensure it is a success.


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