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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There is no right of abode on Ascension and the Government have no plans to introduce such a right. To do so would fundamentally change the nature of the territory and bring unacceptable costs and contingent liabilities to the UK taxpayer.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what areas of disagreement regarding the use of facilities on Ascension Island by the United States are under discussion by the United Kingdom and the United States.[HL1250]
Lord Howell of Guildford: There are no areas of disagreement regarding the use of facilities on Ascension Island by the United States, which is regulated by a series of diplomatic agreements. Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, hold regular discussions with the United States on issues relating to Ascension.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the issues that have been considered in their discussions regarding Ascension Island with the Governor of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha in the past six months.[HL1251]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have had regular discussions with the Governor, and with the Ascension Island Administrator, on a range of issues relating to the security and good governance of Ascension. These have included the possible role of Wideawake airport in connection with the St Helena airport project, Ascension Island Government finances, an Island Council by-election, and the sale of fishing licences.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, they will consider the case for every school to have on its staff a teacher with special expertise in teaching children with autistic spectrum disorders.[HL1220]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government recognise the importance of meeting the needs of children with autistic spectrum disorder but do not believe that having a teacher with special expertise in autism in every school is a practical way forward.
Instead the Government are making support available to staff who teach children with autism. The Government have provided funding for up to 9,000 school special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) to have completed mandatory training by the end of 2011-12 and are funding a further 1,000 SENCOs in 2012-13. The training includes training on particular types of special educational needs, including autism.
The Teaching Agency has developed advanced level training materials on four types of special educational needs, including autism. The Government are also funding the Autism Education Trust until April 2013 to develop national standards for staff working with children with autism and tiered training for all staff, teachers and SENCOs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will propose to European Union Heads of Mission in Dhaka that they should hold regular meetings with the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Commission, particularly before they undertake visits to the CHT.[HL1164]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I welcome my noble Lord's proposal. European Union Heads of Mission in Dhaka regularly discuss issues relating to the Chittagong Hill Tracts with a range of government and non-government stakeholders including members of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission. Pre- and post-visit meetings can be an invaluable means of sharing information.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Bangladesh about the refoulement of Rohingya asylum-seekers by Bangladesh; and whether they will propose that European Union aid be offered to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to facilitate the resettlement of Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh.[HL1193]
Between 2007 and 2012, the European Union (EU) provided €13.85 million to non-governmental organisations working in the field. Additionally, the EU is funding a €3 million project in the region to support a refugee protection environment in Bangladesh.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Details of the loans to Icelandic banks as at 31 March 2011, including repayments and interest received, can be found in Sections 33, 34 and 36 of the Treasury annual reports and accounts 2010-11. The report can be accessed via the following web link: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/annual_report_accounts140711.pdf.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England and the Treasury are currently working together on the design of the scheme and further details will be released in the coming weeks.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have been playing their part to encourage a co-ordinated response to the recent events in Rakhine State, Burma.
We, along with European Union partners, have encouraged both Burma and Bangladesh to ensure the safety of civilians fleeing the intercommunal violence in Rakhine State, and to work with the international community so that the victims of violence can have access to humanitarian assistance.
We fully acknowledge Bangladesh's efforts in dealing with development and humanitarian issues in Cox's Bazar district over several decades, and understand the difficulties accepting further refugees would cause for Bangladesh. However, it is vital that Bangladesh continues to provide treatment for displaced individuals in need of emergency medical care.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of China with a view to ensuring that the Chinese currency is traded at global market prices and not held at artificially low levels.[HL1069]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Chancellor meets regularly with Chinese counterparts to discuss a range of economic and financial issues. At a global level, the G20 has regular discussions on the causes of and response to global imbalances, including the role to be played by exchange rates valued in line with market fundamentals. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have played their full part in these discussions, most recently at June's Los Cabos G20 summit: http://www.g20.org/images/stories/docs/g20/conclu/G20_Leaders_Declaration _2012.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 14 June (WA 265), how many staff working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its agencies were made redundant or departed early last year; what were the costs under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme in (1) redundancy payments, (2) annual pension amounts payable immediately, and (3) any lump sum retiring allowances; and what was the average redundancy payment.[HL1124]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)-a total of 102 staff left under the various voluntary exit schemes between March 2011 and March 2012. The total cost was £7,115,532.
FCO Services-a total of 29 staff left under the various voluntary exit schemes between March 2011 and March 2012 at a total cost of £1,077,344. The total annual pension amount payable for staff who have had access to their pension under the voluntary exit schemes was £182,424 the total lump sum for those staff totalled £537,700.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many staff, by department, are on secondment from the civil service, and to which organisations; and how many external staff are currently seconded into the civil service, in which departments, and from which organisations.[HL1060]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what strategies they have to (1) curtail the availability of guns in the community, and (2) encourage more people with knowledge of illegal gun use or possession to approach the police.[HL973]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The UK has some of the toughest firearms laws in the world. The Home Office works closely with the National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on gun crime issues. NABIS and ACPO monitor trends in the illegal use of firearms and work with local police forces to ensure that they have the intelligence and support they need to address gun crime in their area.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 11 June (WA 158), in the light of the feeding of guide dogs with a specialised feed which is different to the standard dog food rated as pet food, whether they will apply a zero rate of VAT to food supplied for guide dogs.[HL1028]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Arrangements already exist to assess young people on entry to custody for literacy, language and numeracy and, where appropriate, screen them for dyslexia and other learning needs. A local authority which was maintaining a statement of special educational needs for a person immediately prior to their detention is also required to provide a copy of the statement. Education providers in custody use tests, such as the hidden disabilities questionnaire developed by Dyslexia Action, to test anyone who shows signs of having a learning difficulty or disability. This identifies a range of learning difficulties, allowing the education provider to refer the learner for further assessments and to arrange appropriate learning support to assist the learner in achieving their learning aims.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are being taken to ensure that British holiday-makers are safe in Egypt, and especially in Cairo, following reports of potential further protests after the result of that country's presidential election.[HL1048]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) cannot ensure the safety and security of British nationals because such issues are the responsibility of the Egyptian Government and authorities, in the same way that the UK authorities are responsible for the security of all individuals in the UK.
We urge all British nationals travelling overseas to check the FCO travel advice ahead of time. We constantly review the FCO travel advice to ensure that British nationals are aware of the risks they face when they go overseas. Our travel advice offers information and advice to help British citizens make their own informed decisions about travelling to a particular country. We last updated the travel advice to Egypt on 26 June with advice to avoid all political demonstrations and large gatherings, especially those in Tahrir Square. We remain in contact with tour operators on the ground to keep them informed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 19 June 2008 (WA 178-86) and by Earl Howe on 22 November 2010 (WA 263), how many incidents of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) causing a patient to be hospitalised have been reported by clinics in each of the past five years; in how many treatment cycles at least 20 eggs were collected over each of the last five years; how the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ensures that it is aware of all adverse incidents that require a hospital
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the number of cases of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) reported as adverse incidents to the authority by its licensed clinics for each of the past five years is set out in the following table:
|Year||Number of cases of OHSS reported as adverse incidents|
Under the HFEA's General Direction 0011, licensed centres are required to report to the authority the occurrence of any adverse incident, which includes OHSS that requires a hospital admission, and has a severity grading of severe or critical.
The HFEA has also advised that the number of licensable treatment cycles in which at least 20 eggs were collected during the years 2006 to 2010 (the most recent five years of verified data collected on its register) is set out in the following table:
|Number of eggs Collected||Number of treatment cycles in each year|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take in response to the recent report of the World Health Organisation about the danger to public health caused by emissions from diesel engines on land and at sea; and what action they will take, in collaboration with industry and public and private environmental organisations in the United Kingdom, to address this issue.[HL1086]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The recent re-classification of diesel engine-exhaust by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, from "probably carcinogenic to humans" to "carcinogenic to humans", reflects a strengthening of the evidence for this causal link to lung cancer. Long-term exposure to ambient particulate air pollution is already recognised as being associated with lung cancer deaths. Consideration of the public health benefit of policy options to reduce particulate pollution (which includes emissions from diesel engines) is based on their impact on total (ie all-cause) mortality, which includes deaths from lung cancer attributable to air pollution.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the relevant parts of the devolved Administrations have responsibility for air quality policy in the United Kingdom. Road transport is a key contributor to primary particulate matter (PM) emissions, particularly in urban areas, while shipping emissions are an important contributor of the pre-cursors of secondary PM. Defra and the Department for Transport are working together to reduce the air quality impact of the transport sector, for example by working to deliver cleaner air through policies such as improved emissions standards for new vehicles.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Whether proposals for a European Union-wide banking and fiscal union would be subject to a unanimous decision would depend entirely on the proposals being put forward. The UK is already part of, and supports, a single rule book for core minimum standards. However, proposals such as common supervision, a shared depositor protection scheme and common resolution of banks should be for the euro area only, as they are a consequence of the single currency not the single market.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Article 9 of the Treaty on the European Union states that "every national of a member state shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to national citizenship and shall not replace it". The European Union therefore only derives its citizens from its constituent member states, and cannot claim to have citizens in its own right.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much financing UK Export Finance provides for exports to low-income countries; and what percentage of its funds this represents, in each of the past 10 years.[HL1057]
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): UK Export Finance does not finance exports directly but provides support in the form of guarantees on bank loans. It has provided such support for exports to one low-income country in the past 10 years.
Categorisation of low-income countries is based on the World Bank's latest (2011) classification of gross national income (GNI) per capita, being that a lower income country is one that has a GNI per capita of $1,005 or less.
|Financial year||Country||Maximum liability* of case||Percentage of total maximum liability* in financial year|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, through fiscal policies, to encourage the commercial holders of large cash reserves in the United Kingdom to invest them in projects that will stimulate growth and employment.[HL1070]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's priority is to return the UK economy to sustainable, balanced growth. To help achieve this, the Government are focusing on creating the conditions for private sector investment and growth. This includes a competitive and stable tax system which provides business with the confidence to invest and expand.
The Government's aim is to create the most competitive tax system in the G20. Alongside other reforms to the corporate tax system, they have reduced the main rate of corporation tax from 28% to 24% and have set out plans to further reduce it to 22% by April 2014. This will enhance the UK's competitiveness and encourage investment.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) is contributing to the revenue outputs set out in Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) tackling alcohol fraud strategy. For the first time, HMRC and Border Force officials have access in real time to data on intra-EU movements of excise goods that help them better identify and target illicit movements of goods. Since the first phase of EMCS was implemented on 1 April 2010, there has been a significant increase in the revenue yield from registered consignees-businesses authorised to receive duty suspended goods. In their report on Progress with HMRC's renewed alcohol strategy, published in January this year, the NAO attributed this increase to the fact that some consignments of excise goods that would otherwise have been diverted and sold illicitly on the UK market are no longer able to escape detection.
The Warehousekeepers and Owners of Warehouse Goods Regulations 1999 (WOWGR) are making an effective contribution to reducing excise fraud as they guard against unsuitable persons gaining access to duty-suspended goods. Under the regulations warehouse keepers and owners of goods in warehouse are required to be approved by HMRC and are subject to rigorous scrutiny. Applications are rejected if the applicant
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The administrative reference code (ARC) is key to the effectiveness of the Excise Movement and Control System (EMCS) in helping to reduce excise fraud. Each movement of duty-suspended excise product can be identified by its own unique reference number on EMCS. This can be accessed 24/7 by HMRC and Border Agency staff at any time giving complete visibility to movements that was not available under the previous paper-based system. Any movement of duty-suspended excise goods that is not accompanied by a valid ARC is liable to seizure. Assessments for duty owing and penalties may also be raised.
Spirits duty stamps were introduced in 2006 as a key plank of HMRC's original strategy to address alcohol duty fraud. Estimated revenue losses from spirits fraud were £320 million in that year. They reduced to £130 million by the end of 2009-10.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many apprentices (1) under the age of 21, and (2) over the age of 21, were employed within the Department for Education on 1 June, excluding agencies and non-departmental public bodies.[HL960]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department has recruited 41 apprentices since 2008. Of this group 26 secured a permanent job here, or in other departments; two went onto further education; eight completed the programme and left to pursue other job opportunities; and five did not complete the programme. The department currently has 11 members of staff working through its apprentice programme (they have permanent rather than fixed-term contracts and are therefore classed as full time employees in line with the Civil Service policy on apprenticeships). The department is about to begin a recruitment process for its next cohort of apprentices with an estimated 40 apprentices joining in the autumn; they will work across a range of functions and sites.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the total number of staff employed within the private offices of ministers and the permanent secretary at the Department of Energy and Climate Change on 1 June; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21.[HL1114]
Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The Department for Energy and Climate Change had 32 civil servants working within the private office of ministers and the permanent secretary on 1 June 2012. There were no people under the age of 21 or apprentices working in these areas at that time.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 11 June (WA 152 and WA 169), what mechanisms exist to ensure that (1) civil servants, and (2) special advisers, act at all times in accordance with their respective Codes of Conduct.[HL752]
As such, individual civil servants and special advisers are personally responsible for ensuring they conduct themselves in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Service Code and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many interns on the Civil Service Fast Stream Summer Diversity Programme in 2011-12 (1) came from ethnic minority communities, (2) were educated in state comprehensive schools, (3) attended universities outside the Russell Group, and (4) lived outside the Home Counties.[HL1227]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 28 June (WA 101), how many young people are expected to take part in the Whitehall Internship Programme in 2012–13; what will be the duration of those internships; what will be the weekly training allowance; and whether the travel allowance will cover travel to and from interns’ homes at the start and end of the internship. [HL1229]
Baroness Warsi: The Civil Service Fast Stream Summer Diversity Programme 2011-12 (taking place during summer 2012) placed 99 interns from ethnic minority communities (87.6% of those confirmed on the programme), 58 interns who were educated in state comprehensive schools (51.33% of those confirmed on the programme), 47 interns who attended universities outside the Russell Group (41.59% of those confirmed on the programme), and 50 interns who lived outside the Home Counties (including London as part of the Home Counties region, 44.25% of those confirmed on the programme).
We are expecting 120 intern participants on the 6-9 week 2012-13 Whitehall Internship Programme for graduate level students. The weekly training allowance for the graduate programme is £350 for interns working in London and £300 for interns working outside London.
9 July 2012 : Column WA209
We are expecting 60 intern participants on the two week 2012-13 Whitehall Internship Programme for college level (16-18 years old) students. They will be provided with accommodation, travel and a £20 daily training salary in the form of subsistence payments.
We are expecting 120 intern participants on the one day 2012-13 Whitehall Internship Programme for year nine school students. All travel costs to and from interns' homes at the start and end of the internship will be met by the Cabinet Office. Interns will not be paid a training allowance to attend the one day event as these are secondary school level (13-14 years old) students.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what payments were made by the Ministry of Defence to (1) Clifford Chance, (2) Freshfields, (3) Slaughter and May, (4) Allen and Overy, and (5) Linklaters, in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10, (c) 2010-11, and (d) 2011-12; and to what those payments related.[HL914]
Freshfields has been involved in Project Marshall (the procurement of an air traffic control system) at Air Command and in DIO Transformation. Allen and Overy provided legal advice relating to Project Spectrum, the sale of radio frequency spectrum.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on United Kingdom
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of rebalanced support provided for housing costs through local housing allowance or universal credit on the National Health Service's ability to treat (1) mental illnesses and (2) tuberculosis.[HL1205]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): No assessment has been made of the impact of changes to local housing allowance rates on the likely distribution of the population or on the provision of healthcare by the National Health Service. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has commissioned an independent review of the impact of changes to local housing allowance, which provides evidence on claimants' and landlords' responses to the changes. The DWP published a report of early findings on 14 June and a copy of the report has already been placed in the Library. Final decisions on rates of universal credit have not yet been taken.
Health and Wellbeing Boards will have a key role in helping ensure that the accommodation needs of people with mental health problems or tuberculosis who are homeless are addressed in a co-ordinated manner.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published guidance for the NHS and partner organisations, such as local authorities, on identifying and managing tuberculosis among hard-to-reach groups, including homeless people. This guidance recommends that homeless people should be provided with accommodation during treatment, irrespective of their eligibility for state-funded accommodation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what Heritage Lottery funding has been allocated for projects in England over each of the past 10 years; and what percentage of those funds have been used in (1) the North-West of England, and (2) Lancashire.[HL1079]
Viscount Younger of Leckie: Heritage Lottery funding allocated for projects in England over the past 10 years, and the percentage of those funds that have been used in (1) North-West England and (2) Lancashire, is set out in the following table:
|Year||Funding (£m)||Funding (£m)||Percentage of England Funding||Funding (£m)||Percentage of England Funding|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide all members of the House of Lords with the same guidance that is provided to ministers about the interpretation of legislation by the courts, based on the Pepper v Hart case in 1994.[HL1085]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their most recent assessment of the impact of the measures taken by the French authorities to inhibit the movement of potential illegal immigrants from the Calais region to ports in Kent.[HL1195]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Border Force and the French authorities are committed to combating illegal immigration and improving border security through increased joint working at the Northern French ports.
Following the signing by the UK and French Ministers of immigration agreements in 2009 and 2010, Border Force has co-operated closely with the French authorities to fight against illegal migration and trafficking networks by implementing a number of measures and initiatives. This has included the closure by French authorities of the illegal encampment known as the "jungle" in Calais in 2009, the implementation of a Coordination Centre, which created a multi agency and collaborative approach to the challenges of border control, and deployment of improved technologies. The French authorities have continued to take swift action to dismantle any illegal camps in the Calais area.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 28 May (WA 112), where each of the 99 children detained in 2011 were kept in detention; and how many children are currently held in detention.[HL1198]
Information on children held in detention is counted on a quarterly snapshot taken as at 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December of each year. The latest published figures as at 31 March 2012 show that there was one child in detention.
The Home Office releases statistics on detention, solely under Immigration Act powers on a quarterly basis, within Immigration Statistics, which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Science, Research and Statistics website at: http://homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/research-statistics/.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to take action to prevent Google or any other organisation from over-flying private property to gather details by electronic means of the property and those occupying it.[HL1102]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Where personal data are collected in this manner, their processing would be governed by the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 which is enforced independently of Government by the Information Commissioner. There would also be a role for the Civil Aviation Authority in enforcing the requirements of the Air Navigation Order 2005.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obliges non-nuclear weapon states parties to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and in 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors detailed "Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its NPT Safeguards Agreement". Furthermore, the latest report by the director-general of the IAEA to its Board of Governors states that: "contrary to its safeguards agreement and relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and Security Council, Iran is not implementing the provisions of the modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements General Part to Iran's Safeguards Agreement". The same report also sets out a number of concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme. As a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT, Iran has undertaken not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. These issues are therefore extremely concerning.
In addition, the IAEA Board of Governors has repeatedly concluded that Iran is not complying with United Nations Security Council Resolutions requiring it to suspend all enrichment-related activities and work on all heavy water-related projects.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they will make to the Government of Israel about members of the Jahalin tribe of Palestinian Bedouin who wish to return to their original tribal lands in the Negev in Israel.[HL1119]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have concerns about the Israeli Government's plans for relocation of thousands of Bedouin in the Negev. This was a major focus of the visit of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories on 8-11 January. Mr Burt met with Israeli Minister Begin during his visit, to raise these concerns and encourage further dialogue between the Israeli Government and Bedouin representatives.
Our embassy in Tel Aviv is also in regular contact with Bedouin leaders and activists and our ambassador to Tel Aviv has discussed the Israeli Government's plans with the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and Minister Begin. Extensive consultations with the Bedouin community are under way and it is
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of Israel about the Palestinians living in the strip between the Green Line and the West Bank barrier and the people with West Bank identities living on the Jerusalem side of the barrier; and what representations they have made about the access of those people to healthcare and education.[HL1120]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK position on the separation barrier is clear: if Israel wished to build the barrier, it should have been built on the 1967 border-and where it is constructed on the Palestinian side of that border, it is illegal under international law. The routing of the separation barrier through Palestinian agricultural land, often prevents communities from pursuing their traditional livelihoods.
We regularly make representations on these issues to the Government of Israel. We will continue to argue for a just outcome for all the people affected by illegal settlement construction and the confiscation of land due to the separation barrier.
We remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of movement between the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It remains difficult for Palestinians to enter East Jerusalem for work, education, medical treatment or religious worship. Through our embassy in Tel Aviv, we have lobbied the appropriate authorities on the issue of movement and access. We continue to work closely with the quartet and European Union partners, and to call on Israel to ease restrictions on access.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel about harassment of the residents of the Al Baqa'a Bedouin community and of the Burin cluster of villages near Nablus.[HL1121]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We are deeply concerned at the increase in violence by extremist settlers against ordinary Palestinians. Officials from our embassy in Tel Aviv have raised our concerns about this issue with Israeli Defence Minister Barak.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) issued a statement on 22 June condemning a recent incident in which a mosque in the West Bank town of Jaba was vandalised. Mr Burt called upon the Israeli authorities to bring those responsible to justice in all such cases occurring in the areas under Israeli control.
We have also discussed settler violence with our European Union (EU) partners, including at the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 14 May (www.eu-un.europa. eu/articles/en/article_12170_en.htm) where EU Foreign
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel about the eviction of Palestinian Bedouin refugees from their homes in Khalayleh, north of Jerusalem, and the subsequent demolition of those homes.[HL1122]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our serious concern at the 40% increase last year, as recorded by the United Nations, in demolitions of Palestinian properties. We view such demolitions and evictions as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; as harmful to the peace process; and, in all but the most limited circumstances, as contrary to international humanitarian law.
While we have not raised this specific case with the Israeli authorities, we and European Union partners have repeatedly expressed concern about the threatened and actual demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and in those parts of the West Bank under full Israeli control. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) raised our concerns about demolitions and evictions with the Israeli ambassador to London on 23 February, the Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister on 28 February and the Deputy Israeli Prime Minister on 19 March.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the report Children in military custody on the imprisonment conditions of Palestinian children in Israel; and what new action they will undertake.[HL1207]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Children in Military Custody report was an independent study produced by a team of leading British lawyers and funded by the UK Government. Whilst we recognise that some positive recent steps have been taken to improve the treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military justice system, we share many of the report's concerns. We are engaging with the Israeli authorities to encourage further improvements.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): There are no immediate plans to implement these provisions; however we are considering it as part of wider policy developments. It should be noted that, if necessary, the judiciary can already grant the use of an intermediary to assist vulnerable defendants to ensure a fair trial.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many documented acts of violence committed by the Lord's Resistance Army have occurred over the last 12 months; what estimates have been made of the numbers of militias currently at large; and how many people have been killed, injured or displaced.[HL1286]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Information from a range of sources, including the United Nations and non-governmental organisations, indicates that the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) now numbers between 250 and 500 combatants. The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reported 278 LRA attacks between January and December of 2011. These attacks resulted in 120 deaths and 302 abductions. UN OCHA noted a slight decrease in LRA attacks in the final quarter of 2011.
The United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) reports 53 attacks attributable to the LRA in the first quarter of 2012. These have resulted in the deaths of nine civilians, 54 abductions and more than 4,000 displacements. Reporting for the second quarter of 2012 is not yet available.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have put in place to support the UN Regional Strategy on the Lord's Resistance Army, as endorsed by the Security Council on 29 June; what assessment they have made of the resource gaps referred to in the strategic document; and what actions they intend to take to fill those gaps.[HL1288]
Lord Howell of Guildford: At the Security Council session on 29 June, the UK urged the United Nations (UN) to develop a costed implementation plan for the new Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) Regional Strategy, identifying the resource gaps. Any resource decisions will be made in light of this implementation plan.
The UK already supports programmes that address certain elements of the new UN Regional Strategy. For instance, this financial year we have provided £384,000 towards the disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration (DDRRR) programme being undertaken by the Congolese authorities in conjunction with the UN Peacekeeping Operation (MONUSCO) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This has successfully reduced LRA numbers through encouraging defections. We are pleased that the UN has
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide an update on their negotiations with the Malaysian authorities on the status and future of Malaysian British Overseas Citizens living in the United Kingdom, who have renounced their Malaysian citizenship.[HL1275]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): My noble friend has raised the issue of Malaysian British Overseas Citizens in the UK in recent correspondence. I will reply by separate cover addressing his concerns on this matter.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what role the Ministry of Defence Police have in (1) protecting ships that have sunk, or have been sunk, and (2) in investigating actual and suspected cases of such ships being disturbed and goods and other articles removed; and what is their estimate of the impact on that role of the reductions in the number of Ministry of Defence Police.[HL1213]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) will, subject to available resources and competing priorities, undertake criminal investigations into complaints of designated wrecks being tampered with or where items have been removed without authority. The MDP criminal investigative capability will focus on crimes that most significantly affect the defence interest.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance has been given to NHS bodies by (1) the Department of Health, or (2) Monitor, about what NHS healthcare activities or organisations constitute an enterprise under European Union competition law in the event of a merger of such activities or bodies.[HL1202]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): None. Guidance on the application of the Enterprise Act 2002 to mergers within the United Kingdom is a matter for the Office of Fair Trading.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the likely impact of European Union proposals for a new public procurement directive on the National Health Service and social care.[HL1170]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the likely scale of changes in transaction costs for the National Health Service resulting from European Union proposals for a new public procurement directive.[HL1270]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the National Health Service of European Union proposals for a new public procurement directive on integration of services between NHS bodies.[HL1271]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Commission on the proposals for a new public procurement directive will continue throughout 2012. It would not be appropriate to make an assessment at this time on the impact of potential changes to the directive, including transaction costs, to the National Health Service or social care.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of United Kingdom official development assistance has gone to states they consider to be "fragile" every year for the last five years, and to which countries; and whether they are on track to reach their 30% target.[HL1058]
Baroness Northover: The UK Government committed in the Building Stability Overseas Strategy (2011) to focus on those fragile and conflict-affected countries or regions where the risks are high, our interests are most at stake and where we know we can have an impact. This means that DfID will in future years focus our assistance in fewer countries. Of the 28 countries in which DfID will focus bilateral assistance, 21 are considered fragile or conflict affected countries. These countries are:
Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Burma; DR Congo; Ethiopia; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Nepal; Nigeria; Occupied Palestinian Territories; Pakistan; Rwanda; Sierra Leone; Somalia; Sudan (since July 2011, also South Sudan) ; Tajikistan; Uganda; Yemen and Zimbabwe.
DfID has set out the results that will be delivered in each of these countries and planned bilateral assistance in its operational plans. On the basis of these projections, we are confident that we are on track to meet the 30% target in 2014-15. Further details of all DfID operational plans can be found at http://www.dfid.gov.uk/What-we-do/Publications.
The table below shows for each of the past five years the percentage of United Kingdom official development assistance (ODA) provided to fragile or conflict affected states. Figures for 2011 are provisional and do not yet fully reflect country specific expenditure.
|Year||Fragile States ODA* as % of Total UK ODA|
Details of recipient countries for UK aid for the past five years are available in our annual Statistics on International Development publication (http://www. DfID. gov.uk/About-us/How-we-measure-progress/Aid -Statistics/Statistics-on-International-Development-2011). DfID classifies countries as fragile if they scored 3.2 or less on the CPIA or appear on failed state index alert listing or are lower income countries appearing in Uppsala list of countries recently affected by conflict.
To ask Her Majesty's Government over the past 30 years, what has been the percentage change in the number of accountants employed in the private sector; and what has been the percentage change in the number of tax inspectors employed in HM Revenue and Customs.[HL1144]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) does not have year on year details of the number of accountants employed in the private sector over the past 30 years. However, based on usage and attitude research carried out in 2007-08 the number of tax agents was estimated at 116,000.
Currently, there are 17,000 tax professionals in HMRC. Of these, approximately 10,000 are at the higher officer grade or above, which would have been the minimum level for the tax inspector grade in the former Inland Revenue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the range of activities private military and security companies were contracted to undertake on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in 2009, 2010 and 2011.[HL1025]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Private security companies (PSCs) are contracted to carry out a variety of important activities and duties including the static protection of premises, alarm monitoring and rapid response services, in addition to the close protection of personnel.
They play a vital and necessary protective role in hostile environments, and enable the Government and partner organisations to carry out their work in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya by providing essential security services, as well as ensuring operational non-governmental organisations are able to carry out important humanitarian work.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is responsible for promoting British interests in some of the most difficult and fragile environments worldwide. The FCO has a legal duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect its staff from reasonably foreseeable harm which might occur from working in these environments. Using private security companies is a cost effective way of providing one element of this risk mitigation. As with all commercial arrangements the FCO enters into, we invite a number of companies to bid for FCO private security contracts to ensure that we get the best possible value for money.
The bulk of the FCO's expenditure on private security companies is in support of the UK's missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, where the
9 July 2012 : Column WA221
The FCO reviews the appropriateness of the protection we provide to staff on a regular basis. The budgetary provision for contracting private security companies (PSC) in financial year 2013-14 will depend on our assessment of the threat in each of the countries in which we work at that time.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The US dollar is currently the dominant reserve currency. The United States is able to benefit economically from having that currency status. Sterling is still held as a reserve currency. Sterling was the third most widely held reserve currency after the US dollar and the euro at the end of 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund's Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves database. Holdings of sterling in official foreign exchange reserves throughout the world totalled approximately $216 billion at the end of 2011.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our travel advice aims to offer objective assessments of the risks to British nationals in Sudan. We use several sources to assess the security warnings in the travel advice including from security and intelligence agencies, open source and media reporting, local knowledge, reports from our embassies and diplomatic reporting. Based on these sources, we believe there is a threat of kidnapping throughout the country and have set this out as clearly as we are able in our travel advice for Sudan. Travel advice is regularly reviewed and updated.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Information on the health harms of a range of licit and illicit substances commonly used in the United Kingdom, including tobacco, cocaine and cannabis, is contained in the document published by the department in August 2011: A Summary of the Health Harms of Drugs: A Guide to the Risks and Harms Associated with Substance Misuse. A copy of this document has already been placed in the Library.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The introduction of value added tax (VAT) is a decision for the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. A decision to introduce VAT was announced in the 2011-12 budget statement. This decision was based on thorough research and an assessment that VAT would offer a simpler, equitable and stable revenue source. A Green Paper on VAT implementation was published in May and consultation is under way on this. VAT will be implemented from 1 April 2013.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The introduction of value added tax (VAT) is a decision for the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. A decision to introduce VAT was announced in the 2011-12 budget statement. This decision was based on thorough research and an assessment that VAT would offer a simpler, equitable and stable revenue source. A Green Paper on VAT implementation was published in May and consultation is under way on this. VAT will be implemented from 1 April 2013.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The introduction of value added tax (VAT) is a decision for the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. A decision to introduce VAT was announced in the 2011-12 budget statement. This decision was based on thorough research and an
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