23 May 2012 : Column WA55

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Written Answers

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Animal Welfare Act 2006

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many prosecutions have been brought under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for actual harm caused to an animal by use of an electronic training collar; and how many of those have resulted in convictions. [HL294]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Centrally held statistics on prosecutions and convictions brought under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 do not record this level of detail.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the intervention in Libya and their perception of the threats ahead, they will review the policy of providing no aircraft carrier capability for the next 10 years.[HL303]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Events in Libya showed that we were correct in our decision to maintain Tornado instead of Harrier so that we could conduct contingent operations and maintain support to operations in Afghanistan, something we could not have done with Harrier alone. It also demonstrated that we could in the short term make alternative arrangements for overseas basing. However, we do not believe that we can take that for granted in the longer term and this was why we are not prepared to accept a delay in regenerating Britain’s carrier strike capability beyond the timetable set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review and intend to start flying from the Queen Elizabeth Class Carrier in 2018.

Aviation: Flight Time Limitations

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have for the implementation of new flight time limitation rules as proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency.[HL80]

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many additional hours commercial airline pilots may be required to work in any given duty period under the

23 May 2012 : Column WA56

new rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency compared to the present system under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority.[HL81]

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether the relevant trades unions representing airline pilots in the United Kingdom have agreed to the implementation of new rules on flight time limitations as proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency.[HL82]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of how the new rules on flight time limitations proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency compare to rules governing flight time limitations in the United States.[HL83]

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether they have ascertained whether there is a medical consensus that the new rules on flight time limitations proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency will ensure the same level of safety for the travelling public as the existing Civil Aviation Authority rules.[HL84]

Earl Attlee: The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is still considering the responses to its consultation. We do not yet know what the final proposal will contain. We will consider our position, taking into account advice from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), once a final set of rules has been proposed. We will not support EASA’s proposals if they do not provide an adequate level of protection against fatigue.

The relevant trades unions representing airline pilots in the United Kingdom have responded to EASA’s consultation; we are aware that they have some concerns on the proposals, which we have discussed with them.

Rules on flight time limitations in the United States differ on certain aspects from EASA’s proposals. For example the US rules set lower flight duty periods at certain times of the day while the EASA proposals require significantly higher rest periods. We have not seen evidence that EASA’s proposed requirements are less protective than those adopted in the US.

The CAA has reviewed the latest draft of the proposals published by EASA on 18 January and has advised that they would provide a level of safety that is broadly equivalent to that provided by the current UK rules. I am satisfied with the CAA’s advice, which takes into account relevant operational, scientific and medical opinion.

Aviation: London Airports

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 23 April (WA 296–7) (1) whether they expect the number of flight departures from London airports over the next five years to continue to decline, (2) how they assess the value of new runways without centrally held information on the current numbers of transit flights into London, and (3) whether they will maintain such statistics in future.[HL24]

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Earl Attlee: (1) The Department for Transport (DfT) aviation forecasts are primarily prepared to inform long-term strategic aviation policy rather than provide detailed forecasts at individual airports. However these forecasts do include some airport level forecasts. Further detail can be found in the report, UK Aviation Forecasts, published in August 2011 on the DfT website at: http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/uk-aviation-forecasts-2011/uk-aviation-forecasts.pdf.

(2) The DfT uses an option appraisal framework consistent with other transport appraisal schemes, tailored to aviation to capture the costs and benefits of options being considered. This framework uses forecasts from the DfT’s Aviation Demand Forecasting model to assess the level of demand at UK airports. One component of the forecasts is the number of passengers expected to transfer from one flight to another at UK airports. Further detail on the appraisal approach can be found on the DfT website at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/webtag/documents/expert/unit3.18d.php.

(3) The DfT uses a range of data sources to inform aviation policy. This includes detailed data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), including flights, passengers and freight by airport as well as estimates of the number of transfer passengers. The CAA does not publish data on the number of transit flights, but data on the number of transit passengers can be found on its website at: http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=80& pagetype=90.

Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether they will ask the Bank of England to produce and publish a paper on the economic and social consequences of cancelling the gilt edge securities acquired under the programme of quantitative easing; and what is their estimate as to the impact of such an action in reducing public sector debt as a percentage of gross domestic product and achieving their fiscal objectives.[HL178]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has operational responsibility for monetary policy. The MPC makes decisions on its policy tools, including Quantitative Easing, or the stock of asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, in order to meet the 2 per cent inflation target in the medium term.

The MPC is not being required to create money to finance the fiscal deficit or reduce the stock of outstanding government debt.

The separation of fiscal and monetary policy is a key feature of the UK’s economic policy framework. To use monetary policy tools to meet fiscal objectives, such as financing government borrowing, could conflict with the MPC’s objective of price stability and undermine confidence in the UK’s monetary policy framework. Additionally, government borrowing from the central bank is illegal under Article 123 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

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Burma

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether trade sanctions against Burma will be lifted in light of recent democratic progress.[HL76]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): On 23 April, the European Union Foreign Affairs Council agreed to suspend all sanctions against Burma for 12 months, except for the arms embargo, which remains in place.

In recognition of the progress that has been made in Burma, and after careful consideration, the Government lifted their policy of discouraging trade with Burma on 26 April. We believe that at this moment in time the right kind of responsible trade and investment can aid Burma’s transition.

Carers

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have to increase support to carers.[HL256]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government recognise the vital contribution that carers make to society, and have taken strong action to support them.

The cross Government Carers’ Strategy, Recognised, Valued and Supported: Next Steps for the Carers Strategy sets out the Government’s vision and priorities for action over the next four years, focusing on what will have the biggest impact on carers’ lives, including their health, social care, education and employment.

We have provided an additional £400 million to the National Health Service over four years from 2011, to provide carers with breaks from their caring responsibilities to sustain them in their caring role.

We also made almost £1 million available in 2011-12 to increase awareness and understanding of carers’ needs for support, among those working in primary health care. Through this funding, the Royal College of General Practitioners, Carers UK and the Carers Trust are developing a range of training and awareness raising programmes for early identification of carers. We will be building on this in 2012-13.

Charity Emblems

Question

Asked by Lord Rogan

To ask her Majesty’s Government which, if any, prison authorities in the United Kingdom are instructing staff not to wear poppies or charity wristbands, including those for Help for Heroes. [HL49]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is responsible for private and public sector prisons in England and Wales. NOMS as an authority has never issued any instruction to staff that restricts the wearing of poppies or charity wrist bands by staff when they are on duty.

The Scottish Prison Service has confirmed that no instruction has been issued to their staff restricting the wearing of these items.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service will respond to you directly.

Children: Neglect

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to review the definition of neglect in the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to include emotional and educational concerns.[HL109]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The earlier that help is given to vulnerable children and families, the more chance there is of turning lives around and protecting children from harm. The Government’s vision is for a child-centred system that includes providing effective help when a problem arises at any stage in a child’s life. This is one reason why we asked Professor Munro to carry out an independent review of child protection. She identified that services are often too reactive, and we are now helping children’s services, the police and the NHS to work together and focus on early identification before problems escalate. We are also working with Ofsted to make sure their inspections look at whether children are getting the help they need.

Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 is not restricted solely to a child’s physical needs and as such there are no plans to change the law in this area.

Local authorities have a statutory duty under Section 47 of the Children Act to investigate when there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child in their area is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. This would include the emotional abuse of a child, or the failure to provide him with suitable education. The Children Act 1989 imposes further duties on local authorities and courts to act to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are being neglected, which would include failing to provide the child with an education, and emotionally abused.

The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010) sets out the processes to be followed when there are concerns about a child’s safety and welfare. These concerns may be serious enough to justify initiating action in the family court. The threshold criteria set out in the Section 31 of the Children Act 1989 is used by judges when deciding whether a child has suffered significant harm and should be the subject of a statutory care or supervision order.

Through revisions to the statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, andtheFramework for the Assessment of Vulnerable Children and their Families, we are exploring how best to reduce central

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prescription to give local areas more freedom to determine how assessments are carried out. Our aim is to free social workers and other professionals from unnecessary bureaucracy so they have more time for better quality work with children and families.

However, statutory guidance itself is not sufficient to effect the change needed. We are undertaking a number of reforms to strengthen social work practice. This includes improving the social work degree and developing further the skills of existing social workers in critical areas such as child protection. We have advertised for and intend to appoint a chief social worker, who will work with the new College of Social Work and the newly designated principal child and family social workers in local authorities to drive improvement and raise standards. The department has also commissioned Action for Children and the University of Stirling to produce training materials to help equip the workforce to respond effectively to children who are likely to be, or have been, neglected. These materials will be published soon.

Children: Parenting

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether Octavius Black discussed the Government’s new parenting advice voucher scheme with (1) the Secretary of State for Education, (2) the Prime Minister, or (3) Steve Hilton, before the announcement was made. [HL124]

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether Octavius Black discussed the tendering process for the Government’s new parenting advice voucher scheme with (1) the Secretary of State for Education, (2) the Prime Minister, or (3) Steve Hilton, before or during the tendering process.[HL125]

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether (1) the Secretary of State for Education, (2) the Prime Minister, or (3) Steve Hilton, met Octavius Black in an official meeting or at a social event during the tendering process for the Government’s new parenting advice voucher scheme.[HL126]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what reassurances they have received that Parent Gym is a philanthropic programme, in the light of its inclusion as a provider of parenting classes in the Government’s new voucher scheme.[HL127]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what were the details of the tendering process that Parent Gym went through to become one of the organisations delivering the Government’s new parenting advice voucher scheme.[HL128]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): All tender applications from organisations seeking to provide parenting classes as part of the CANparent trial were evaluated in a fair, open and competitive procurement process. Tender applications were submitted in response to an invitation to tender and associated evaluation criteria, which

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were published in the Official Journal of the European Union and made widely available. Tenders were evaluated in two stages, the first assessing bidders’ past experience and capacity to deliver and the second assessing their specific proposals to deliver parenting classes. Evaluation was carried out by officials against the published criteria, and advice on proposals was sought from independent experts. Bidders, including Parent Gym, were invited as appropriate, to attend clarification meetings, which further scrutinised their proposals.

Parent Gym’s tender application was accepted solely on the basis of its scores against the published evaluation criteria. Ministers and special advisers were not directly involved in tendering or the evaluation process and contract award decisions were made by the officials on the Tender Board, on the basis of recommendations from the Tender Evaluation Panel.

Organisations bidding in the tender process were not required to be philanthropic or charitable organisations; this was not part of the evaluation criteria. Parent Gym’s status as a philanthropic programme therefore had no bearing on its success in the tendering process. Parent Gym’s philanthropic nature was made clear to the Department for Education in information provided as part of its tender application and in the subsequent clarification meeting.

Compensation: Pleural Plaques

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to restore compensation to pleural plaques sufferers following the decisions by the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly to do so.[HL262]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government understand that it could be seen as unfair for compensation to be available in one part of the United Kingdom but not in another. However, in the light of the current medical evidence, the Government do not consider it appropriate to overturn the House of Lords’ judgment that the condition of pleural plaques is not compensatable under the civil law.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many awards under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme were made to applicants with unspent criminal convictions in (1) 2008–09, (2) 2009–10, (3) 2010–11, and (4) 2011–12.[HL115]

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many awards under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme were withheld on the basis of applicants’ unspent criminal convictions in (1) 2008–09, (2) 2009–10, (3) 2010–11 and (4) 2011–12.[HL116]

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To ask her Majesty’s Government how many awards under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme were reduced on the basis of applicants’ unspent criminal convictions in (1) 2008–09, (2) 2009–10, (3) 2010–11 and (4) 2011–12.[HL117]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The figures are given in the table below. These figures reflect only cases where a claims officer reduced or withheld an award due to unspent convictions because that is the only data CICA’s central database holds regarding criminal records. The current (2008) compensation scheme says that claims officers must refuse or reduce compensation where the applicant has unspent convictions unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so. However, there are cases still being considered under previous schemes that did not make such reductions compulsory. The number of awards paid to those with unspent convictions is therefore likely to be higher.

Financial YearNumber of awards reducedNumber of awards withheld

2008-09

1,952

3,544

2009-10

2,837

4,674

2010-11

3,604

4,048

2011-12

2,775

3,989

David Simpson

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made regarding the arrest and imprisonment of David Simpson in the Central African Republic after he reported finding 18 mutilated bodies in that country; and what is their response to complaints made by Mr Simpson’s family regarding the conduct of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following that imprisonment.[HL204]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have been providing consular assistance to Mr Simpson, since the day of his arrest and have been in regular contact with his family in the UK. Consular officials are consulting with Mr Simpson’s legal representatives to ensure that the local legal procedures are correctly followed and have asked Central African Republic authorities for assurances in this regard.

We recognise that this is a difficult and frustrating time for Mr Simpson’s family. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) my honourable friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham), has personally spoken to Mr Simpson’s family to offer assurances that the FCO is committed to seeing Mr Simpson’s situation resolved.

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Department for Transport: Executive Agencies

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask her Majesty’s Government, for each of (1) the Highways Agency, (2) the Vehicle Certification Agency, (3) the Government Car and Despatch Agency, (4) the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, (5) the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, (6) the Driving Standards Agency, (7) the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, (8) the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, and (9) the General Lighthouse Authorities, (a) what was the budget reduction target in 2010–11 and 2011–12, and (b) by what margin the target has been met or missed.[HL161]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport is allocated a budget settlement by HM Treasury through the comprehensive spending review process. The settlement is a net budget figure inclusive of many factors such as growth funding, impact of new policies (increases and decreases), efficiency savings, inflation etc. As such it is not possible to provide a definitive “budget reduction target”.

Some of the business units listed are trading funds (i.e. the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, and the Driving Standards Agency) and are funded by income generated for the services they provide; this also applies to the General Lighthouse Authorities. Fees are set so that fee income covers expenditure.

For the other entities which are funded (wholly or partly) through departmental budgets, the budget settlement figures and net outturn expenditure for 2010-11 and 2011-12 are as follows:

2010-11BudgetOutturnVariance
£’000£’000£’000

Highways Agency

3,502,185

3,316,629

185,556

Vehicle Certification Agency

91

224

(133)

Government Car and Despatch Agency

700

3,580

(2,880)

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

240,319

190,396

49,923

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

142,567

130,778

11,789

Marine Accident Investigation Branch

4,173

3,892

281

2011-12BudgetOutturnVariance
£’000£’000£’000

Highways Agency

3,302,874

3,171,801

131,073

Vehicle Certification Agency

240

142

98

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Government Car and Despatch Agency

3,600

7,604

(4,004)

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

247,300

222,658

24,642

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

153,707

141,864

11,843

Marine Accident Investigation Branch

3,632

3,780

(148)

Digital Economy Act 2010

Questions

Asked by Lord Whitty

To ask her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the costs to universities, public libraries and wi-fi providers of implementing the provisions of the Digital Economy Act 2010.[HL36]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what assessment has been made of the effects of the Digital Economy Act 2010 on the ability of public intermediaries to provide internet access to the public, with particular reference to public libraries and universities.[HL37]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what clarification will be provided in the Initial Obligations Code for universities, public libraries and wi-fi providers on their responsibilities and obligations under the Digital Economy Act 2010.[HL38]

Baroness Rawlings: The Government have undertaken an impact assessment for implementation of the Initial Obligations Code, which considers the potential impact on organisations that provide internet access as a core part of their services. The actual obligations on these organisations will be known when Ofcom publishes its code for consultation later this year. However, the Digital Economy Act 2010 was introduced with the clear policy intention that there should be no category of organisations exempt from the obligations and the Government have not therefore singled out universities, public libraries and wi-fi providers for any special consideration in the code. As with any organisation, we expect libraries, universities and wi-fi providers to take their own measures to protect their networks from misuse.

Disabled People: Blue Badges

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 15 May (WA 3-4) in view of the statement that “eligibility for a badge under the ‘with further assessment’ criteria is not

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condition specific”, whether they will remove those sections of the guidance that specify particular conditions in order to avoid discrimination.[HL179]

Earl Attlee: The guidance issued by the Department for Transport for local authorities is non-statutory. It makes it clear that each badge application should be treated on a case by case basis and that decisions about whether or not a person meets the eligibility criteria set out in the regulations are for the issuing local authority to make. The conditions quoted in the guidance are examples that are intended to improve consistency and to assist local authorities in ensuring that badges are issued to those people who are unable to walk or have very considerable difficulty walking.

The guidance is based on research that was carried out with a range of disabled people’s representatives, healthcare professionals and local authorities. Disabled people’s representatives were also consulted on a draft of the guidance before it was published.

Education: Cyberbullying

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask her Majesty’s Government what procedures are in place, nationally and at school level, to protect teachers who are victims of cyberbullying.[HL200]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): It is for school governing bodies, and local authorities, as the employers of teaching staff, to ensure procedures are in place to protect teachers from cyberbullying. In carrying out these duties they can draw on a range of advice and guidance to help them make sure they have up to date policies, including material sign posted by the department on its website: http://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/advice/f0076899/preventing-and-tackling-bullying.

Education: English

Questions

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask her Majesty’s Government what action is being taken to increase the number of specialist English teachers in primary schools in response to the Ofsted report Moving English Forward.[HL153]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what action is being taken to improve the subject knowledge of English co-ordinators in primary schools in response to the Ofsted report Moving English Forward. [HL154]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what action is being taken to strengthen whole-school literacy work across the teaching in all subjects in response to the Ofsted report Moving English Forward. [HL157]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We endorse the view that good subject knowledge is important for English teachers.

We intend to allocate more initial teacher training places to primary generalist courses with an additional specialism. Typically a trainee on one of these spends 80% of their time preparing for general primary teaching and 20% specialising in a subject, which could be English.

Good head teachers know the value of a whole-school, cross-subject approach to literacy work. We are supporting this through our review of the National Curriculum and changes to the syllabus and requirements for GCSE examinations. Ofsted’s new school inspection framework also places a stronger emphasis on pupils’ literacy skills across subjects at both primary and secondary level.

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask her Majesty’s Government what action is being taken to improve transition and continuity in curriculum and assessment between key stages 2 and 3 in response to the Ofsted report Moving English Forward.[HL155]

Lord Hill of Oareford: This year, the Government are providing £50 million to fund summer schools for disadvantaged children (those eligible for free school meals or in public care). These schools will ease the transition between primary and secondary school for eligible pupils by allowing pupils to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings. Specific activities will vary according to the needs of the children involved, but may cover catch-up in English and mathematics and enrichment activity such as trips to museums or sports venues.

The Deputy Prime Minister announced on 14 May 2012 that the Education Endowment Foundation will shortly be inviting groups of schools to bid for additional funding for literacy catch-up for disadvantaged Year 7 pupils who did not achieve the expected level (Level 4) at Key Stage 2. An additional £10 million will be provided for these projects. The projects will be evaluated and the results shared with all schools.

Lord Bew’s 2011 review into Key Stage 2 testing, assessment and accountability acknowledged the importance of providing information about attainment at the time of transition. We will encourage secondary schools to make wider use of these data to support new Year 7 pupils.

The new national curriculum for English will ensure that teachers prepare pupils for secondary school by ensuring their reading is sufficiently fluent and effortless, and that they have a conscious control over their writing in order to manage the general demands of the curriculum in Year 7, across all subjects.

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to improve the teaching of handwriting, especially amongst boys, in the light of the Ofsted report Moving English Forward.[HL164]

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Lord Hill of Oareford: We agree with Ofsted’s recommendation to publish research on writing. We are drawing together the current research and plan to publish an overview in the coming months.

Mastering accurate and proficient handwriting is a vital part of all pupils’ education and the Government are keen to strengthen the approach to this essential skill within the new national curriculum. We expect to publish draft programmes of study for public consultation, including those for primary English, later this year.

Following a recommendation from Lord Bew’s report into Key Stage 2 testing, assessment and accountability, we are introducing a new grammar, punctuation and spelling test at Key Stage 2 in 2013. We are considering whether to include an assessment of handwriting in the test and a decision on this will be made in the summer.

Elections: Returning Officers

Question

Asked by Lord Rennard

To ask her Majesty’s Government what was the cost of fees paid to returning officers for the general election in 2010 and the European parliamentary elections of 2009.[HL150]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The maximum recoverable amounts which returning officers were entitled to claim for their services and expenses in conducting the general election in 2010 and the European parliamentary elections of 2009 are set out in statutory orders that are made by the Secretary of State prior to the date of the poll.

The relevant orders are the Parliamentary Elections (Returning Officers’ Charges) Order 2010, the European Parliamentary Elections (Local Returning Officer’s Charges) England, Wales and Gibraltar Order 2009 and the European Parliamentary Elections (Returning Officer’s Charges) Order 2009. The orders can be found at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/830/contents/made

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2009/1077/contents/made

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2009/1069/contents/made

The overall maximum recoverable amounts that could be claimed by returning officers in England and Wales were £2,019,680 for the 2010 UK parliamentary election, and a total of £2,152,046, which was allocated for local and regional returning officers for their services at the 2009 European parliamentary elections.

However, as the figures listed in the charges order are maximum recoverable amounts, we will only know the actual totals claimed once all claims from returning officers have been settled for both polls. Although it can be noted that following the settlement of 90% claims from the 2010 UK parliamentary election and 99% for the 2009 European parliamentary election the respective amounts of £1,763,130 and £12,036,265 have been paid out to date to returning officers for their services in running the polls.

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Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 22 November 2011 (WA 222) and 30 November 2011 (WA 69), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s compliance and enforcement policy requires an individual who is neither employed nor licensed by the authority to personally identify a sperm donor whose sperm was used in research without his consent and to contact that person, so that the authority could then check the donor register and inform the centre concerned of the donor’s identity, so that the centre concerned could then check their records to ascertain whether the sperm donor was retrospectively contacted and inform the authority accordingly, such that the authority might be able to confirm whether the sperm donor was contacted regarding the use of his sperm in research; and, if so, which part does so.[HL58]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that its compliance and enforcement policy applies to all cases where the authority has become aware of a centre’s non-compliance, whether through an inspection or otherwise. The compliance policy does not explicitly deal with the example described by the noble Lord.

Finance: Transparency

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

To ask her Majesty’s Government what measures are in place to encourage financial transparency through the disclosure of profits and payable tax by multinational companies in the United Kingdom. [HL75]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government welcomes efforts by UK businesses to increase transparency on how much tax they pay and encourages efforts to go further to help build public support for, and confidence in, a fair and competitive tax system.

In the UK, all incorporated businesses (companies) are required to publish their financial statements annually and to file these with Companies House. The financial statements include details of a company’s profit for the accounting period in question.

Health: Diabetes

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Diabetes UK report State of the Nation 2012.[HL182]

23 May 2012 : Column WA69

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We welcome the Diabetes UK publication State of the Nation 2012. The report has highlighted areas of achievement and for improvement. The National Health Service should take note of the recommendations and look to reduce the significant variation that exists in some of the care processes that are key for the effective management of people with diabetes.

We are developing an outcomes strategy for long-term conditions. A companion document will be published on diabetes alongside the strategy at the end of 2012. We are also developing a cardiovascular outcome strategy and that will set out the important links between cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Health: Podiatry

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether they will be meeting the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists to discuss the variation across the National Health Service in both the incidence of lower limb amputations and the number of podiatrists employed.[HL233]

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many home visits by podiatrists were commissioned by the National Health Service in each of the past five years; and whether they regard the provision of such services to be an essential part of the National Health Service.[HL234]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Minister of State, Mr Paul Burstow, has agreed to meet with the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists to discuss foot care.

The information requested is not collected centrally. It is the responsibility of local National Health Service organisations to commission services to meet the needs of their community including the provision of podiatry services.

Higher Education: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether they will adjust the Scottish block grant relating to spending on universities when free tuition is granted in Scotland to Northern Ireland students on production of an Irish passport and not through ascertaining the student’s country of residence.[HL68]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Education is a matter devolved to the Scottish Government. Once overall public expenditure budgets have been determined, the devolved Administrations have freedom to make their own spending decisions on devolved programmes within their overall totals.

23 May 2012 : Column WA70

Homosexuality

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with governments in the Commonwealth nations that have not reformed legislation banning homosexuality.[HL211]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In Uganda, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham) raised with President Museveni our concerns about a Private Member’s Bill to strengthen anti-homosexuality legislation, and we will continue to raise this at the most senior levels of the Ugandan Government.

In Nigeria, our high commission in Abuja raised our objection to the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill with the chief of staff to the President of the Senate and directly with the House of Representatives. We also supported a demarche by the European Union working group on human rights which raised with the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Affairs concerns about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

In Jamaica, our high commission has raised the issue of Jamaica’s legislation regarding homosexuality with the new government, including the Prime Minister.

The Commonwealth is a valuable partner in promoting human rights globally, and in helping to deliver UK human rights policy. We are committed to working with the Commonwealth and its partners to help them uphold values of human rights, rule of law, democracy and development. We regularly raise human rights issues with the Commonwealth Secretariat and with member states. We seek to increase debate on these issues, including on sexual orientation or gender identity, within and among Commonwealth countries.

Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Whitty

To ask her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their policy on Right to Buy, what is their assessment of the likely average revenue per unit to local authorities from additional Right to Buy sales which would then be available for investment in new social housing.[HL34]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): We have estimated that on average around £40,000 of receipts will be available from additional right to buy sales for investment in new homes at affordable rent.

The actual receipt will vary for each property, depending on the value of the property and the length of tenancy.

23 May 2012 : Column WA71

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask her Majesty’s Government what assessment have they made of the adequacy of the options available to first-time home buyers in London. [HL237]

Baroness Hanham: Across England, the Government have committed to supporting people to achieve their aspirations and feel the pride of home ownership. From 1 April 2012, the Mayor of London has been responsible for strategic housing, regeneration and economic development in London.

We recognise the particular challenges faced by first-time buyers, and we are providing a range of options intended to help them and others into home ownership, including:

shared ownership, which helps people unable to buy a home without assistance to purchase a minimum 25% share, paying rent on the remainder;the FirstBuy equity loan scheme, jointly funded by the Government and participating developers, which will help almost 10,500 aspiring home owners by spring 2013. The 20% equity loan can reduce the deposit needed to just 5%; andthe NewBuy Guarantee Scheme, which will provide up to 100,000 prospective buyers—including first time buyers—with access to 95% loan to value mortgages on new build properties, delivering a significant boost to housing supply;the reinvigorated Right to Buy scheme, with the new discount cap of £75,000, which will also help more people—including first time buyers—to realise their aspiration for home ownership.

The Government are committed to reducing the UK’s burden of debt and abolishing the structural deficit. This will help to keep interest rates low and improve credit availability, freeing up lending for first-time buyers.

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many home purchases have been completed under the NewBuy Scheme announced in the Autumn Statement. [HL291]

Baroness Hanham: Quality assured data on the total number of completions under the industry-led NewBuy Guarantee scheme is not yet available to Government. Government expect to make this information available from September 2012.

The Home Builders Federation suggests that around 400 people have reserved new homes through the scheme in its first nine weeks of operation: http://www.hbf.co.uk/media-centre/news/view/newbuy-scheme-early-success-new-stats-reveal-400-reservations-since-launch/.

In addition, the purchase of a newly built home is normally completed up to six months after reservation; the NewBuy Guarantee scheme is only two months old.

23 May 2012 : Column WA72

Housing: Health and Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the take up of residual current devices in homes rented through (1) local authorities, (2) registered social landlords and (3) private landlords. [HL1]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk-based evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. It was introduced under the Housing Act 2004 and came into effect on 6 April 2006 and applies to all residential properties in England.

Whilst not a legal requirement, the Housing Health and Safety Rating System Operating Guidance states that if electrical equipment operating at 230 volts or higher is used, a residual current device (RCD) can provide additional safety.

Since 2005 Part P of the Building Regulations (Electrical safety in dwellings) has required all new and rewired homes to be fitted with residual current devices in accordance with the rules in British Standard BS 7671, “requirements for electrical installations”, or an equivalent standard.

The English Housing Survey estimated that in 2009, in the private rented sector, 62% of dwellings had RCDs installed. For local authority properties the proportion was 74%, and for registered social landlords it was 80%. There is a small amount of uncertainty around these figures due to sampling effects. These estimates exclude a small number of cases where the presence or absence of RCDs could not be determined by inspection.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether those applying for leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom on the basis of being the unmarried partner of a United Kingdom national are eligible to obtain such leave if the United Kingdom national is married to another person.[HL249]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): A person can qualify for leave to remain in the United Kingdom as the unmarried partner of a UK national who is married to someone else, provided that the sponsor can show that the marriage has permanently broken down.

Imports and Exports

Questions

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask her Majesty’s Government, further to the Office for National Statistics Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics, April 2011 edition, table G2 (top 30 export and import commodities in

23 May 2012 : Column WA73

2010), how the value, in millions of pounds, of each of the 30 imports commodity categories divides between (1) imports from countries outside the European Union, and (2) imports from other countries within the European Union.[HL296]

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 Pearson of Rannoch, dated May 2012.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking further to the ONS Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics, April 2011 edition, table G2 (top 30 export and import commodities in 2010), how the value in millions of pounds of each of the 30 imports commodity categories divides between (1) imports from countries outside the European Union, and (2) imports from other countries within the European Union. [CO] HL296

I attach two tables, which list the UK’s top 30 commodity imports in 2010 in EU and non EU countries. The data are extracted from the March 2012 UK trade dataset, and are consistent with the most recent monthly ONS UK trade publication.

UK’s Top 30 Import Commodities in 2010, by EU, and Non-EU area
£ million
Seasonally Adjusted, Current Prices, Balance of Payments basis
Table 1: EU Imports—2010
CommodityValue £ million% of Total

T Total

186065

100.0

7E Electrical machinery

27363

14.7

78M Cars

18288

9.8

7M Mechanical machinery

14746

7.9

54 Medicinal & pharmaceutical products

9698

5.2

33 Oil

8235

4.4

78I Road vehicles other than cars

7153

3.8

51 Organic chemicals

6534

3.5

05 Vegetables & fruit

4730

2.5

64 Paper & paperboard

4630

2.5

01 Meat & meat preparations

3873

2.1

67 Iron & steel

3637

2.0

69 Miscellaneous metal manufactures

3587

1.9

84 Clothing

3400

1.8

11 Beverages

3326

1.8

55 Toilet & cleansing preparations

3321

1.8

68minusS Non-ferrous metals less silver

3133

1.7

02 Dairy products & eggs

2374

1.3

23 May 2012 : Column WA74

66 Mineral manufactures

2212

1.2

65 Textile fabrics

2089

1.1

04 Cereals

1866

1.0

793 Ships

1830

1.0

09 Miscellaneous foods

1772

1.0

62 Rubber manufactures

1679

0.9

07 Coffee, tea, cocoa etc

1503

0.8

52 Inorganic chemicals

1378

0.7

792 Aircraft

1311

0.7

85 Footwear

1203

0.6

24 Wood & cork

1043

0.6

53 Dyeing, tanning & colouring materials

929

0.5

08 Animal feeding stuffs

913

0.5

UK’s Top 30 Import Commodities in 2010, by EU, and Non-EU area
£ million
Seasonally Adjusted, Current Prices, Balance of Payments basis
Table 2: Non-EU Imports—2010
CommodityValue £ million% of Total

T Total

178157

100.0

33 Oil

27814

15.6

7E Electrical machinery

23636

13.3

7M Mechanical machinery

14032

7.9

792 Aircraft

11722

6.6

84 Clothing

11446

6.4

66 Mineral manufactures

5879

3.3

54 Medicinal & pharmaceutical products

5544

3.1

68minusS Non-ferrous metals less silver

3966

2.2

69 Miscellaneous metal manufactures

3290

1.8

28 Metal ores & scrap

3055

1.7

51 Organic chemicals

2863

1.6

05 Vegetables & fruit

2725

1.5

9 Unspecified goods

2542

1.4

85 Footwear

2403

1.3

65 Textile fabrics

2201

1.2

78I Road vehicles other than cars (i)

2023

1.1

78M Cars

1710

1.0

52 Inorganic chemicals

1574

0.9

67 Iron & steel

1525

0.9

03 Fish & shellfish

1500

0.8

11 Beverages

1287

0.7

23 May 2012 : Column WA75

64 Paper & paperboard

1267

0.7

01 Meat & meat preparations

1133

0.6

55 Toilet & cleansing preparations

1095

0.6

68S Silver

1055

0.6

62 Rubber manufactures

1052

0.6

07 Coffee, tea, cocoa etc

934

0.5

12 Tobacco

880

0.5

63 Wood & cork manufactures

756

0.4

08 Animal feeding stuffs

749

0.4

Source: Office for National Statistics (UK Trade, March 2012 Datasets)

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask her Majesty’s Government, further to the Office for National Statistics Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics, April 2011 edition, table G2 (top 30 export and import commodities in 2010), how the value, in millions of pounds, of each of the 30 exports commodity categories divides between (1) exports to countries outside the European Union, and (2) exports to other countries within the European Union.[HL298]

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 Pearson of Rannoch, dated May 2012.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking further to the ONS Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics, April 2011 edition, table G2 (top 30 export and import commodities in 2010), how the value in millions of pounds of each of the 30 exports commodity categories divides between (1) exports from countries outside the European Union, and (2) exports from other countries within the European Union. [CO] HL298

I attach two tables, which list the UK’s top 30 commodity exports in 2010 in EU and non EU countries. The data are extracted from the March 2012 UK Trade dataset, and are consistent with the most recent monthly ONS UK trade publication.

UK’s top 30 Export Commodities in 2010, by EU, and Non-EU area
£ million
Seasonally Adjusted, Current Prices, Balance of Payments basis
Table 1: EU Exports—2010
CommodityValue £ million% of Total

T Total

142207

100.0

23 May 2012 : Column WA76

33 Oil

21478

15.1

7E Electrical machinery

14856

10.4

7M Mechanical machinery

11322

8.0

54 Medicinal & pharmaceutical products

11298

7.9

78M Cars

7757

5.5

51 Organic chemicals

4456

3.1

792 Aircraft

3894

2.7

66 Mineral manufactures

3370

2.4

67 Iron & steel

3163

2.2

55 Toilet & cleansing preparations

2792

2.0

84 Clothing

2744

1.9

78I Road vehicles other than cars

2594

1.8

68minusS Non-ferrous metals less silver

2557

1.8

69 Miscellaneous metal manufactures

2557

1.8

11 Beverages

2553

1.8

52 Inorganic chemicals

1917

1.3

65 Textile fabrics

1728

1.2

64 Paper & paperboard

1578

1.1

04 Cereals

1495

1.1

28 Metal ores & scrap

1468

1.0

01 Meat & meat preparations

1282

0.9

53 Dyeing, tanning & colouring materials

1178

0.8

62 Rubber manufactures

1167

0.8

9 Unspecified goods

1018

0.7

03 Fish & shellfish

1016

0.7

793 Ships

967

0.7

02 Dairy products & eggs

845

0.6

85 Footwear

729

0.5

07 Coffee, tea, cocoa etc

706

0.5

09 Miscellaneous foods

700

0.5

UK’s top 30 Export Commodities in 2010, by EU, and Non-EU area
£ million
Seasonally Adjusted, Current Prices, Balance of Payments basis
Table 1: EU Exports—2010
CommodityValue £ million% of Total

T Total

123501

100.0

7M Mechanical machinery

21528

17.4

23 May 2012 : Column WA77

54 Medicinal & pharmaceutical products

11069

9.0

7E Electrical machinery

10928

8.8

33 Oil

9830

8.0

78M Cars

9488

7.7

792 Aircraft

4975

4.0

51 Organic chemicals

4407

3.6

66 Mineral manufactures

3471

2.8

11 Beverages

3084

2.5

28 Metal ores & scrap

2655

2.1

69 Miscellaneous metal manufactures

1970

1.6

67 Iron & steel

1882

1.5

68minusS Non-ferrous metals less silver

1815

1.5

9 Unspecified goods

1749

1.4

52 Inorganic chemicals

1565

1.3

55 Toilet & cleansing preparations

1510

1.2

68S Silver

1294

1.0

78I Road vehicles other than cars (i)

1285

1.0

84 Clothing

926

0.7

65 Textile fabrics

868

0.7

53 Dyeing, tanning & colouring mate

774

0.6

64 Paper & paperboard

760

0.6

793 Ships

754

0.6

62 Rubber manufactures

487

0.4

04 Cereals

460

0.4

09 Miscellaneous foods

402

0.3

25 Pulp & waste paper

390

0.3

26 Textile fibres

344

0.3

03 Fish & shellfish

338

0.3

07 Coffee, tea, cocoa etc

305

0.2

Source: Office for National Statistics (UK Trade, March 2012 Datasets)

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Exeter

To ask her Majesty’s Government which religious leaders they have been in discussion with over finding ways to ensure access to and protection of the holy sites of Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.[HL30]

23 May 2012 : Column WA78

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We place real importance on the right to freedom of religion for all. It remains difficult for Palestinians, including Christians and Muslims, to enter East Jerusalem or other places of pilgrimage in Israel. We remain deeply concerned about access to and the protection of holy sites within Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

We discuss this issue with religious leaders of all faiths, and with the relevant authorities, including raising specific cases as appropriate and discussing ways of protecting the holy sites of Jerusalem, Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.

At a conference last year at Lancaster House I spoke about the importance of ensuring Jerusalem remains a holy city for all faiths at the International Conference on Christians in the Holy Land, organised by the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster. The conference was attended by religious leaders from various faiths including the Catholic Patriarch and the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem as well as significant Jewish and Muslim figures.

Nuclear Weapons

Questions

Asked by Lord Browne of Ladyton

To ask her Majesty’s Government when they became aware of the intention of the Government of the United States to replace and modernise the B61 nuclear weapons stationed in Europe.[HL91]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what consultation, if any, they had with the Government of the United States about the planned replacement between 2018 and 2022 of B61 nuclear weapons stationed in Europe by newer B61-12 weapons and the resulting modernisation and life extension programme, as reported by the United States Government Accountability Office.[HL92]

To ask her Majesty’s Government what consultation, if any, they had with any NATO allies about the planned replacement between 2018 and 2022 of B61 nuclear weapons stationed in Europe by newer B61-12 weapons and the resulting modernisation and life extension programme, as reported by the US Government Accountability Office.[HL93]

To ask her Majesty’s Government when and in what forum the planned replacement between 2018 and 2022 of B61 nuclear weapons stationed in Europe by newer B61-12 weapons was the subject of NATO deliberations.[HL94]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether and to what extent, if any, the planned modernisation of the B61 nuclear weapons stationed in Europe affected the Government’s contributions to the Deterrence and Defence Posture Review discussions in NATO.[HL95]

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether the planned modernisation of the B61 nuclear weapons stationed in Europe will create a new capability. [HL96]

23 May 2012 : Column WA79

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The B61 is a United States (US) nuclear weapon and as such a US national programme. The US officially informed NATO in June 2008 of the planned life extension programme (LEP) for this weapon system, as part of NATO’s overall capabilities for deterrence and defence alongside conventional and missile defence forces. Discussion of this programme took place amongst the 27 nations of the NATO nuclear community across a range of routine NATO nuclear meetings and during routine UK-US nuclear bilateral exchanges. The B61 LEP was not a factor in the formulation of the UK’s input into the Deterrence Defence Posture Review.

The US is clear that the B61 does not constitute a new capability. The US 2010 Nuclear Posture Review states that “life extension programmes will use only nuclear components based on previously tested designs, and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities”.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 30 April (WA 419), what is their assessment of the proposal by the Northern Ireland Executive not to implement similar increases in employee contributions in the local government pension scheme, and whether they will draw to the Executive’s attention the amounts by which HM Treasury will reduce the Northern Ireland block grant.[HL26]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Her Majesty’s Government have not been notified by the Northern Ireland Executive of any such proposal.

Asked by Lord Bradley

To ask her Majesty’s Government what is (1) the median level, (2) the mean level, and (3) the mode level, of current public sector pension payments. [HL171]

Lord Sassoon: The Treasury has responsibility for setting overarching public service pensions policy. Individual public service schemes are the responsibility of the relevant Secretaries of State and the data on payments to members are held by the relevant individual department.

Police: Risk Assessments

Questions

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many promotion event risk assessment form 696 submissions were received by the Metropolitan Police clubs focus desk in each of 2009, 2010 and 2011.[HL270]

23 May 2012 : Column WA80

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): This Government do not request or collect this information centrally.

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many performers’ personal details submitted by way of a promotion event risk assessment form 696 were recorded by the Metropolitan Police clubs focus desk in each of 2009, 2010 and 2011.[HL271]

Lord Henley: The Government do not request or collect this information centrally.

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask her Majesty’s Government how many Licensing Authorities in England and Wales outside the Metropolitan Police area have imposed conditions on premises licences relating to the completion of promotion event risk assessment form 696 for music events.[HL272]

Lord Henley: The Government do not request or collect this information centrally.

Prisoners: Transfers

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in including provision for reduced sentences for prisoners transferred to the United Kingdom in a renegotiated prisoner transfer agreement with Thailand; and whether they will ensure that the new agreement will apply to prisoners already transferred.[HL173]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Proposed amendments to the prisoner transfer agreement with Thailand have been presented to the Thai authorities for their consideration. We have not yet had a response to these proposals. Any changes to the prisoner transfer agreement will require the consent of the Thai authorities. The position of those prisoners already transferred to the UK will be considered in any future negotiations.

Schools: Split Sites

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 7 February (WA 57), whether it is possible to have a split site of a single school in an adjacent town, bordering county or different area of the country, so long as the original name and single admissions criteria are retained.[HL42]

To ask her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 30 April (WA 427), whether “more than one site” means that the school’s split site can be anywhere.[HL63]

To ask her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 30 April (WA 427), whether “a continuance of the original school” means that the same name and admissions criteria are retained in the split site, with the same

23 May 2012 : Column WA81

governing body overseeing the whole enterprise, or whether it means that the organisation is developed by retaining the same core mission, admissions policies and school naming convention, but within an umbrella organisation; and, if the latter, whether the original school could become an umbrella organisation with a number of satellites operating with the same basic structures and philosophy but with individual governing bodies reporting to the over-arching governing body.[HL64]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Any state-funded school can seek to operate on additional sites, and many have done so with great success for many years. As previous answers have indicated, current legislation prohibits the introduction of a new wholly selective maintained school or Academy, so any proposal must comply with the law. In considering whether to approve any proposal, the local authority, or the Secretary of State in the case of Academy expansion, will have to be satisfied that the proposed expansion onto another site is a continuance of the original school.

Sudan

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether they have made an assessment of the extent of any state-incited or state-orchestrated religious persecution and discrimination against Christians in Sudan. [HL112]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have no evidence that there is a state orchestrated campaign against Christians. However, recent rhetoric by government leaders on the north-south conflict has led to tension between communities and fear of attacks against South Sudanese in Sudan, many of whom are Christians.

We were very concerned by a recent attack on a church in Khartoum, although there was no evidence of state involvement. We welcome the announcement from the Ministry of Religious Guidance and Endowments of an investigation into the incident and urge them to ensure this enquiry is thorough, independent and timely. We continue to remind the Government of Sudan of their obligation to protect all of their civilians, including those in religious groups. Our Embassy in Khartoum holds regular meetings with representatives of faith-based groups and has funded civil society groups promoting human rights and diversity in Sudan.

Sudan and South Sudan

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

To ask her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to assist in ensuring an early and peaceful resolution of the unimplemented provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, and in particular the resolution of outstanding issues affecting South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei.[HL114]

23 May 2012 : Column WA82

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to make clear to both countries that they must commit themselves to negotiation of all outstanding issues, in the context of the mediation by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel. We are also encouraging the Government in Sudan to put in place a political process of constitutional reform that will address the needs and views of all its people, including those in the conflict affected states of Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei. The UK worked hard to ensure United Nations Security Council Resolution 2046, which supports the roadmap, dealt with Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State under a Chapter VII mandate. We continue to remind the Government of Sudan of their obligation to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access to both states. I welcomed the news that South Sudan have withdrawn their remaining security forces from Abyei on 11 May, and we now urge the Sudanese security forces to do the same.

Ticks

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask her Majesty’s Government what epidemiology data exist for the historic and current population densities of Ixodes ricinus ticks in England and Wales; whether it shows an increase in tick numbers; what proportion of ticks carry Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato; and what measures are in place for future monitoring.[HL138]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Health Protection Agency’s (HPA) Medical Entomology group has historical data on tick distribution in the United Kingdom (UK) for the last 100 years and has been running an enhanced tick surveillance programme for the UK since 2005. This monitoring work will continue and the latest findings, published in 2011, conclude that compared to historical data Ixodes ricinus ticks are expanding their geographic UK range, particularly in south-west England. Since 2010, the HPA has conducted studies of tick numbers at 10 sites across the UK as part of the Environmental Change Network; it is too early to say whether tick abundance has increased. Ticks collected in these studies are not currently routinely tested for levels of any pathogens, except within specific funded research projects.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask her Majesty’s Government, with regard to the freedom of household pets to travel in Europe, what surveillance measures exist to detect the arrival of tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases that are not currently endemic in the United Kingdom; and what measures exist to inform United Kingdom residents of the risks of those diseases when they travel to Europe and the United States and the need for vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis.[HL139]

Earl Howe: Suspected cases of tick-borne encephalitis are referred to the Health Protection Agency’s (HPA) Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory at Porton Down for diagnosis. Acute suspected encephalitis of

23 May 2012 : Column WA83

any cause is statutorily notifiable and infection with any species of Borrelia, the causative agent of Lyme disease, reportable under the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010.

Testing is performed on the basis of symptoms and travel history to cover the principal differential diagnoses when combined with routine tests undertaken in National Health Service hospitals. Data from these tests are used for epidemiological monitoring by the HPA’s Health Protection Services at Colindale. Information to travellers and clinicians about tick-borne encephalitis, including vaccination, is provided by general practitioners and through the National Travel Health Network and Centre which is funded through the HPA.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask her Majesty’s Government what testing is carried out in addition to Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia afzelii for tick-borne diseases including Bartonellosis, Ehrlichiosis, Borrelia garinii, Babesiosis, Louping ill and Q-fever, that occur in the United Kingdom, and for other zoonoses such as tick-borne encephalitis, Boutonneuse fever, Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to which United Kingdom residents can be exposed when travelling to Europe and the United States. [HL140]

Earl Howe: Testing is available for a wide range of zoonotic agents through the Health Protection Agency’s (HPA) Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory and other laboratories. The selection of tests used depends on the history and travel details of the patient, and a panel of assays is performed to cover the principal differential diagnoses. If this includes a disease not available currently through the HPA’s Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory, samples are referred to another appropriate centre for analysis. Tests are available for a wide variety of tick-borne diseases including: Rickettsia (spotted fevers including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Mediterranean Spotted Fever (Boutonneuse Fever), African Tick Typhus; Epidemic Typhus and Murine Typhus), Orientia (Scrub Typhus), Tularemia, Q-fever, Tick-borne Encephalitis (including Louping Ill), Rift Valley fever, Congo-Crimean Haemorrhagic Fever, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia, Bartonella and Babesiosis. Such tests may include those for relevant diseases with a similar presentation that are spread by other vectors, eg sandfly fever.

Transport: Intelligent Transport Systems

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask her Majesty’s Government whether they are taking action to ensure that United Kingdom representatives at the European Commission Expert Group relating to the intelligent transport systems directive have advice and technical briefing from industry and professional organisations, and if so how.[HL137]

23 May 2012 : Column WA84

Earl Attlee: Work to develop specifications for the six priority action areas, identified in the European Union’s intelligent transport system directive, is now under way through expert groups established by the European Commission. This Department for Transport is engaging with a wide range of interested parties on each of the priority areas to ensure its representatives on the expert groups secure the best interests of the United Kingdom.

Unemployment

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask her Majesty’s Government what assessment has been made of the reasons for the levels of unemployment affecting black and Asian people aged under 24 years; whether racial discrimination is a contributing factor; what remedial actions are proposed; and what advice has been provided by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. [HL13]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Equality Strategy, Building a Fairer Britain, sets out the Government’s approach to tackling inequality—recognising that we are a nation of 62 million individuals. This is built into the Government’s individualised approach to increasing employment among ethnic minorities. The coalition has put in place, notably through Jobcentre Plus and through the network of contracted Work Programme providers, employment support that offers flexible tailored support to meet the needs of each individual jobseeker.

The support available includes the new Youth Contract, worth almost £1 billion, which includes a range of additional help for unemployed young people.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is represented on the Ethnic Minority Advisory Group, which provides advice to the Department for Work and Pensions to help increase ethnic minority employment.

Young Offender Institutions: Restraint

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask her Majesty’s Government when they expect to make a decision on a new system of restraint for use in the under-18 secure estate following the work of the Restraint Advisory Board.[HL90]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): An announcement regarding the new system of restraint—minimising and managing physical restraint—for use in secure training centres and under-18 young offender institutions will be made via Written Ministerial Statement before the House rises for Summer Recess.