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16 Mar 2012 : Column WA117



16 Mar 2012 : Column WA117

Written Answers

Friday 16 March 2012

Agriculture: Animal Importation

Question

Asked by Lord Burnett

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Imports into the UK of live cattle, sheep and pigs from countries outside the European Union (EU) must comply with the conditions laid down in European legislation on the protection of animal health. Imports of cattle, sheep and pigs are permitted only from countries listed as authorised for imports of that particular species in Commission Regulation (EU) No. 206/2010. Consignments must also meet the animal health conditions set out in the appropriate veterinary certification laid down in this regulation. All imports must be imported into the EU via a border inspection post specifically approved to take these animals, where they undergo veterinary checks to ensure that the import requirements have been met.

Movements of live cattle and pigs from other EU member states must comply with the relevant animal health requirements set out in Council Directive 64/432/EEC, including the appropriate veterinary certification. Movements of sheep must be in accordance with Council Directive 91/68/EEC. Additional specific animal health requirements may be required dependent on the region or member state of origin; for example, specific controls were introduced following the outbreak of bluetongue across parts of the EU in 2007. Consignments are not subject to veterinary checks at the border but undergo risk-based post-import checks by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency. All consignments of live animals must also comply with the rules on the welfare of animals during transport.

All EU legislation is amended as appropriate to take into account changing circumstances such as the animal health situation in exporting countries or following the results of an inspection visit by the European Commission.

Air Travel Organisers' Licensing

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



16 Mar 2012 : Column WA118

Earl Attlee: The Government expect new regulations concerning the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) scheme to come into effect on 30 April 2012. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for running the ATOL scheme, including seeking to ensure that the regulations are complied with. While it is not anticipated, should the CAA become aware of any significant issues about the effectiveness of the new regulations in achieving their intended purpose, I would expect it to raise the matter promptly with the Department for Transport, including options for addressing the issue. The department and the CAA would then consider the appropriate action to take.

The new regulations are designed to improve clarity for consumers about holidays that are within the scope of the ATOL scheme. However, under current powers it is not possible to include within it holidays procured on an "agent for the consumer" basis, even though these may closely resemble other holidays that are ATOL-protected. To address this further source of potential confusion for consumers, the Civil Aviation Bill currently before Parliament contains new regulation-making powers that would allow holidays procured in this way to be brought into the ATOL scheme. Subject to the parliamentary process, the Government intend to consult in 2013 on the use of these powers.

Copyright

Question

Asked by Lord Dobbs

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The initial impact assessments published with the current consultation on copyright provided an initial assessment of potential costs and benefits of different policy options under consideration. The Government are now seeking more detailed evidence on the costs and benefits to all parties who could be affected by the proposals, through public consultation.

Duchy of Cornwall

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): There are 11 special areas of conservation partly or wholly on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. Details are provided below:



16 Mar 2012 : Column WA119

Special Area of Conservation (SAC)Total area of SAC in hectaresDuchy area as % of total SAC

Dartmoor

23,158.69

77%

Fal and Helford

6,362.82

7%

Phoenix United Mine and Crow's Nest

48.72

59%

Plymouth Sound and Estuaries

6,386.97

46%

River Camel

619.65

18%

Isles of Scilly Complex

26,848.62

0.6%

Godrevy Head to St Agnes

128.39

23%

Polruan to Polperro

213.39

24%

Penhale Dunes

621.34

9%

The Lizard

3,257.11

2%

Tintagel-Marsland-Clovelly Coast

2,429.84

1 %

The habitats directive requires that any plan or project that is likely to have a significant effect on a site designated under the directive is subject to a full "appropriate assessment" to identify the specific impacts of the plan or project on the nature conservation interests of the site. Such assessments can be carried out by a wide range of authorities and records are not held centrally.

Food: Labelling

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government believe that people should know what they are buying in shops or when they are eating out. An amendment to require food labels to indicate whether an animal has been stunned before slaughter was proposed last year by the European Parliament in the context of proposals for an EU food information for consumers regulation. This proposal was not taken up, but in subsequent discussions a compromise agreement was reached that highlighted the importance of this issue and proposed that it should be considered by the EU Commission in a welfare context as part of the anticipated discussion on the EU welfare strategy.

The Government support this approach, as it will allow consumer information to be considered alongside measures to minimise the suffering of animals slaughtered without stunning. The Commission has recently published its proposed Welfare Strategy for 2012-15 and has confirmed it will be studying the issue of labelling as provided for in last year's agreement on the food information for consumers regulation. The Government welcome this approach and we look forward to receiving further proposals from the Commission. In the mean time we are considering how we can use domestic legislation.



16 Mar 2012 : Column WA120

Forced Marriage

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): All schools should have a child protection policy in place, and procedures that are in accordance with local authority guidance and locally agreed inter-agency procedures. It is that child protection policy that provides the framework within which threats such as those posed by forced marriage can be addressed. Schools can make a significant difference to individual children but it is they, not Government, who are best placed to decide how to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities, as they know their pupils best. Schools are not required to have separate policies and procedures to deal with forced marriage.

The department does not have details of which schools in England and Wales responded to the review of the implementation of the Forced Marriage Unit multi-agency statutory guidance for dealing with forced marriage.

Government Departments: Staff Childcare

Question

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.

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The DfE and its predecessor departments have offered a range of childcare provision for staff as set out below. This has enabled people with childcare responsibilities to work for longer, to be more flexible as to when they work and to work beyond the school day and term. It has also helped the department to retain skills and experience.

Childcare vouchers

Since 2006, all eligible staff have been able to receive childcare vouchers. These are vouchers with a cash equivalent value which can be used to pay for registered and approved childcare. They are tax-free up to certain limits.

The table below shows spend on childcare vouchers by DfE and its predecessor departments for each full financial year going back to 2003-04. These figures have been rounded. Due to differences in the way the departments have provided childcare vouchers during these years and the availability of management information, not all of the costs are directly comparable. The increase in spend on childcare vouchers relates to a reduction in departmental funding for other childcare provision, such as subsidised workplace nursery places and improvements in the tax benefits for those receiving childcare vouchers.

YearSpend

2003-04

£125k

2004-05

£165k

2005-06

£185k

2006-07

£250k

2007-08

£390k

2008-09

£375k

2009-10

£600k*

2010-11

£460k

Work place nurseries

DfE and its predecessor departments previously subsidised places at workplace nurseries, but with the extension in the availability of childcare vouchers from 2006 this funding was reduced to those with reserved rights for places. Spend for the past three full financial years is set out in the table below for those with reserved rights. These figures have been rounded. Spend by DfE's predecessor departments is not available for each financial year prior to 2009-10, although it can be confirmed that the cost in the 2004-05 financial year was £380,000.

YearSpend

2009-10

£17k

2010-11

£7k

2011-12

£3k

Holiday play schemes

Places on holiday play-schemes were funded by DfE's predecessor departments. With the extension in the availability of childcare vouchers from 2006, this funding was ended. Spend by DfE's predecessor departments is not available for each financial year back to 2002, although it can be confirmed that the cost in the 2004-05 financial year was £45,000.



16 Mar 2012 : Column WA122

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

Earl Attlee: The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, the honourable Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), received a copy of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Forgotten Passengers report on 25 January 2012. This report provided valuable testimony from blind, partially sighted and other disabled passengers on the difficulties they face travelling on buses around the United Kingdom. Although no meeting has taken place specifically to discuss the outcomes of this report, Norman Baker acknowledged receipt of it in a letter of 7 March 2012. He previously met the chief executive of Guide Dogs, Richard Leaman, on 1 November 2011 to discuss a number of issues affecting blind and partially sighted passengers.

Intellectual Property Office

Questions

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The income from commercial services was generated in the main by patentability searches for commercial concerns, as well as patent searches for other government departments to support grant schemes. There were also some searches for other countries on a contract basis. The expenditure related to these activities, using a full cost basis including all overheads. Since then the IPO has been receiving an increasing number of applications for patents and, as the commercial searches of this kind are available through a number of private sector providers, the IPO decided to cease offering the facility to commercial customers so that resource could be concentrated on the delivery of statutory responsibilities from 6 October 2011.

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

Baroness Wilcox: The Intellectual Property Office has offered some commercial intellectual property services. These included patentability and infringement searches and a mediation service. However, the IPO

16 Mar 2012 : Column WA123

has been receiving an increasing number of applications for patents and, as commercial searches of this kind are available through a number of private sector providers, the IPO decided to close the search facility so that resource could be concentrated on the delivery of statutory responsibilities from 6 October 2011. We continue to offer a mediation service and undertake some patent searches on a contract basis for other countries as well as for other government bodies to support grant schemes.

Railways: Rolling Stock

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The 40 new vehicles on London Midland are expected to provide 2,380 extra seats. The 40 new vehicles on TransPennine Express are expected to provide 2,180 extra seats. The total number of seats for the Pendolino carriages is expected to be around 7,038. Each Crossrail train is expected to provide a capacity for around 1,500 passengers per train (with around 450 seated) but this is subject to final specification and procurement. It is expected that there will be a total of around 27,000 seats. It is expected that there will be 544 new vehicles for the Intercity Express Programme (IEP). The mix of standard/first-class vehicles is not yet finalised so it is not possible to set out the number of seats. On Thameslink, it is expected that there will be around 62,700 seats.

Regional Growth Fund

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The third round of Regional Growth Fund opened on 23 February 2012 and the closing date for applications is 13 June 2012. No applications have been received yet for the third round.



16 Mar 2012 : Column WA124

Schools: Dyslexia

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We do not hold information centrally on the number of teacher training providers that offer courses in dyslexia. It is important that, within initial training, trainees develop the skills and knowledge to teach children with a broad range of special educational needs and disabilities rather than to focus on a specific impairment. All primary initial teacher training (ITT) programmes are designed to support trainee teachers to meet the standards for QTS. Therefore all programmes must include an SEN element. However, we do not prescribe the content of this provision.

Funding has been provided to improve teachers' skills and knowledge in teaching dyslexic pupils. Between 2009 and 2011, 3,200 teachers across primary and secondary have undertaken specialist dyslexia training courses approved by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). We have also provided funding for up to 9,000 newly appointed special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) to undertake the mandatory master's-level qualification in the three years up to March 2012. This would include identifying and meeting the needs of pupils with SEN, including dyslexia, and supporting classroom teachers to do so.

Trade Union Modernisation Fund

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The final payments for Union Modernisation Fund (UMF) projects will be made in the summer of 2012. £7 million has been paid or committed under the three rounds of the UMF programme. The BIS website provides further information: www.bis.gov.uk/policies/employment-matters/strategies/umf.

Ministers chose to run three rounds of the UMF programme. No further funds will be committed as the programme has fulfilled its primary function to help unions to respond to economic, technological and other changes in the workplace and to modernise the way they operated.


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