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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will use the international aid conference for Afghanistan on 8 July to recommend the reservation of specific sums of international aid for (1) protecting the civic rights of women and girls, (2) extending and improving their education and training, and (3) for providing micro-finance for women's businesses.[HL1361]
Baroness Northover: The international community must make long-term development commitments at Tokyo to secure Afghanistan's future. Once the level of international finance and the Government of Afghanistan's reform commitments have been agreed, the UK, along with our Afghan and international partners, will review how resources can best be prioritised for the good of the Afghan people. Last weekend the Secretary of State for International Development announced that the UK will maintain its current funding levels of £178 million per year for the next five years.
The UK is already working closely with the Afghan Government and Afghan civil society to secure progress on women's rights, by educating girls, by helping 8,000 of the poorest women into jobs and by working with groups dedicated to protecting women. At last weekend's Tokyo conference, the Secretary of State for International Development met Afghan women civil society representatives to hear first-hand how the UK can best support women's rights in the years ahead. The UK also worked hard to ensure the conference outcomes incorporated strong language on the protection of women's rights, including implementation of the law on violence against women.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their priorities in supporting conservation protection programmes in Africa; whether they will maintain their support for these programmes; and to what extent in doing this they will work through non-governmental organisations.[HL1414]
Baroness Northover: The coalition Government's priorities for environmental protection are to improve management of water resources; give more protection to forests; secure food supplies; and help poor people protect their lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change. In Africa, we are supporting this work through programmes such as the International Climate Fund (ICF), civil society partnerships and the Darwin Initiative. For example, through the ICF, 15 million
17 July 2012 : Column WA22
UK support is currently delivered through a wide variety of partners, including non-governmental organisations, partner country Governments and multilateral organisations such as the UN. The UK Government also influence the rest of the international community to secure ambitious actions at a global level.
The UK will continue supporting such programmes. We will build on approaches that we know to be successful. We will look hard at the evidence and the effectiveness of what we and others are doing to achieve better results and value for money for poor men, women and children. This will continue, where appropriate, to include work through non-governmental organisations.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Dr Al Singace remains in detention as his case is being retried in the Bahraini civilian courts. A member of staff from our embassy regularly attends the hearings and we continue to raise with the authorities their international obligations to ensure all citizens can exercise the universal human rights and freedoms to which they are entitled, including our expectation that they have full access to any medical care and treatment that is required.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask Sir John Vickers and the Independent Commission on Banking to produce a supplementary review of HM Treasury's proposals to ring-fence retail and investment banking.[HL1371]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government published their proposals on ring-fencing in the banking reform White Paper on 14 June 2012. No supplementary reviews are planned but the White Paper is open for public consultation and the Government welcome views from all interested parties. The consultation will close on 6 September 2012.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the appointment of someone to the position of chief executive officer of a bank requires the approval of the Financial Services Authority; and, if so, when approval was given to the appointment of Mr Bob Diamond to this position at Barclays.[HL1290]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), whose day-to-day operations are independent from government control and influence. This question has been passed on to the FSA, which will reply to the noble Lord by letter. A copy of the response will be placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to investigate whether taxpayers have been disadvantaged by the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate for sterling, particularly as it applied to various forms of liquidity support and deposit guarantees given to banks.[HL1291]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Following an investigation, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced that it had found that Barclays made inappropriate submissions to the USD and JPY LIBOR as well as EURIBOR between January 2005 and May 2009. The FSA's Final Notice1 describes attempts by Barclays staff to influence both LIBOR and EURIBOR.
There were two types of attempted manipulation in relation to LIBOR. The first were attempts to manipulate the rate up or down by individual traders, depending on their trading positions, between January 2005 and July 2008. The second were attempts by the bank artificially to flatter its perceived creditworthiness, by artificially lowering its LIBOR submissions, between September 2007 and May 2009.
This calculation method, combined with the fact that manipulation attempts were both to raise and lower LIBOR submissions artificially, makes any accurate net calculation of the end effect on any end user of interest rate products extremely difficult.
However, all issues relating to LIBOR will be examined in great detail. The Chancellor has announced an independent review of the regulation of LIBOR to be headed by Martin Wheatley, CEO-designate of the new Financial Conduct Authority.
The Government have also has proposed the establishment of a full parliamentary committee of inquiry comprised of representatives from both the Commons and the Lords into professional standards in the financial services industry. Both Houses are in the process of establishing this inquiry, under the chairmanship of Andrew Tyrie, MP.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the introduction of employment and support allowance (ESA) time-limiting, what progress they have made with the commitment to introduce a light-touch assessment for ESA for cancer patients awaiting, undergoing and recovering from treatment to ensure more cancer patients are placed in the support group; and when they hope to put these changes in place.[HL1592]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Our informal consultation on accounting for the effects of cancer treatment in the work capability assessment (WCA) closed earlier this year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Government of Burma is allowing full and free access to local and international aid agencies to assist internally displaced people in (1) Arakan State, and (2) Kachin State.[HL1330]
Baroness Northover: We remain concerned about limitations to access for local and international aid agencies trying to provide aid to Arakan and Kachin, and have raised this issue with the Government of Burma.
In Kachin State, UN relief convoys into non-government controlled areas have restarted along pre-agreed humanitarian corridors. Security concerns in areas where fighting continues have prevented access to much of the state.
Baroness Northover: In 2011-12 DfID provided around £2.5 million in bilateral aid for basic healthcare, food security, improved sanitation and grants to help with the costs of schooling for internally displaced people in Burma. Projected figures for 2012-13 are under review.
Baroness Northover: In financial year 2010-11 around £22,000 was provided by DfID for Egress to support training for the design, implementation and evaluation of projects for NGOs and individuals involved in development in Burma.
Baroness Northover: DfID staff frequently discuss support for refugees living on the Thai-Burmese border with EU counterparts as well as with other donors. DfID has consistently supported the need to ensure sufficient support for refugees living on the Thai-Burmese border.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 5 July (WA 186), which organisations offer comparative advantage to the specific work of the Commonwealth in the spheres of agriculture, health and education; and why they necessarily do.[HL1483]
Baroness Northover: In each of these three areas there are organisations which are well-placed to provide the support which the Commonwealth's developing country members require. To take each in turn:
There is a wealth of multilateral agencies providing technical assistance and other forms of support, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The World Bank is the largest external source of aid to education and generates high-quality policy products. Other important organisations that work on education include the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The Commonwealth also has a separate intergovernmental organisation which supports education, the Commonwealth of Learning.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the leading agency in this field and provides a wide range of support to developing countries. This is also an area where foundations play a major role, including the Gates Foundation, which has deployed more than US$15 billion over the past 18 years.
With its limited resources, the Commonwealth Secretariat adds little value to the work of these organisations. We believe the secretariat should focus its work on other areas where it can make a bigger difference, as the Secretary-General has proposed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of proposed charges to recover the costs of collecting fines from offenders on the number of appeals to magistrates' courts. [HL1458]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of proposed charges to recover the costs of collecting fines from offenders on the ability of offenders in (1) social housing, and (2) privately rented accommodation, to meet rent payments.[HL1459]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions have been held by the Ministry of Justice with (1) the Department for Work and Pensions, (2) the Department for Education, and (3) the Office of the Children's Commissioner, regarding the impact on dependent children of proposed charges to recover the costs of collecting fines from offenders.[HL1461]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): An impact assessment on the provisions in Clause 20 of the Crime and Courts Bill has been published
17 July 2012 : Column WA27
Fines are a criminal sentence which is means-tested by the court against the person's circumstances. It is in the interests of that person to provide details of their circumstances prior to sentencing including whether they are in receipt of benefits, social housing and whether they have any dependants. That will allow the court to set the fine at a level that is manageable as well as reflecting the seriousness of their crime. Without any information the fine will be based on an assumed weekly income and is likely to be set much higher.
If a person pays as ordered by the court that person will not be subject to any collection costs. If offenders, particularly those who could be considered vulnerable, find themselves in hardship, it is vitally important that they contact the court before going into default.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information the Ministry of Justice holds on the primary reasons for offenders failing to meet payment plans for fines imposed in (1) 2008-09, (2) 2009-10, (3) 2010-11, and (4) 2011-12.[HL1462]
Lord McNally: Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service does not collect detailed offender profile information which shows the reasons why offenders fail to comply with their payment plans for fines.
The Government take the issue of fine enforcement very seriously and Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is working to ensure that clamping down on tine dodgers is a continued priority nationwide.
The Courts Act 2003 sets out the specific criteria under which an offender may apply to the fines officer for a variation of their payment terms or volunteer for an attachment of earnings order or a deduction from benefit order. However, such an application may not be made unless:there has been a material change in the offender's circumstances since the collection order was made, or since the fines officer last used these powers to vary; orif the offender has provided more information about their circumstances (ie information that was not available to the court when the original payment terms were set).
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to amend current legislation to allow them more easily to prosecute those alleged to have committed fraud and conspired to commit fraud. [HL1295]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Government keep the tools and powers available to tackle fraud under review and are determined to strengthen the approach to tackling fraud. As part of the work in this area, the Government launched a consultation on 17 May 2012 on the possible introduction of deferred prosecution agreements. This consultation can be found at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/deferred-prosecution-greements.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the current controls on puppy farming; and what course of action is available to a member of the public who encounters a third party selling puppies that appear to originate from a puppy farm.[HL1527]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Breeding of Dogs Act 1973 requires dog breeders who carry out a certain level of dog breeding activity to be registered with their local authority. It is an offence punishable by three months' imprisonment or a £1,000 fine not to be registered.
The Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006 provide robust powers to prevent puppies being bred and kept in conditions that fail to take account of their welfare needs. The courts may impose sentences of up to six months' imprisonment and fines of up to £20,000. A member of the public who believes that these Acts are being breached should report their concerns to their local authority or to the RSPCA.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government are investing £4.5 billion over the spending review period to deliver 170,000 affordable homes by 2015 for rent and affordable home ownership. This investment will lever in £15 billion of private sector investment, a total of £19.5 billion invested in new affordable housing.
In addition, this Government will inject £200 million into the supported housing market over the next five years to help build an estimated 6,000 new homes for older people and younger disabled adults.
The National Planning Policy Framework, published in March 2012, sets out that local planning authorities should plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups in the community, such as older people.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the final cost to public funds of the referendum on the alternative vote, including central government costs, local authority costs met by the consolidated fund, and costs met by the Electoral Commission. [HL1543]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Electoral Commission's latest estimate for the total cost of the referendum on the voting system is £74,670,000. The final figure will be published in a report which the commission will produce this autumn.
|Category||Actual cost (or latest estimate)|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The OFT has a number of powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 (EA02) where it is required to consider the interests of consumers who may include NHS patients.
The OFT already has expertise in handling cases in the healthcare sector (such as those involving private hospitals or dental practices with a substantial proportion of NHS patients). It expects to enhance this expertise
17 July 2012 : Column WA30
In May this year, the OFT published a market study into the £5.73 billion UK dentistry market. This made a number of recommendations, which the OFT identified as in the interests of NHS patients, including in relation to the provision of clear, accurate and timely information for patients, direct patient access to dental care professionals and reform of the NHS dental contract in England.
In April this year, the OFT referred the market for private healthcare to the Competition Commission. The OFT's market study established reasonable grounds that private patients and their GPs face difficulties selecting private healthcare providers on the basis of quality or value for money, and this may ultimately result in patients paying higher prices or receiving lower-quality care.
In September last year the OFT published conclusions of its mobility aids market study. The study concluded that elderly and vulnerable consumers were not being treated fairly by traders, that consumers could not access or act on information easily and that competition in the wheelchair sector was not working well for consumers. It undertook enforcement action against a number of firms and made recommendations to the NHS supply chain and to the community of individual public sector purchasing bodies across the UK, with a view to increasing their ability to drive vigorous competition in the wheelchair sector.
Furthermore, an evaluation of the liberalisation of retail pharmacy services in the UK, following recommendations in an OFT market study, identified shortened travel times and waiting times and improved access to lower-priced over-the-counter medicines, extended opening hours and greater choice for patients.
The OFT has also gained additional experience of the pharmaceutical sector and NHS procurement processes in its proceedings against Reckitt Benckiser under the Competition Act 1998. In April 2011, the OFT announced its decision that Reckitt Benckiser had infringed UK and European competition law in the market for the NHS supply of alginate and antacid heartburn medicines and imposed a penalty of £10.2 million on it.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what time elapsed between the establishment of enterprise zones in Liverpool, Sheffield, Tees Valley, Humber, Black Country and North East England and Deeside in North Wales and HM Treasury's agreement to designate sites within those zones as areas in which enhanced 100% capital allowances are available. [HL1411]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Liverpool, Sheffield, Tees Valley, North East and Black Country enterprise zones were announced in Budget 2011; the Humber Renewable Energy Super Cluster zone on 17 August 2011 and the Humber Green Port Corridor zone at Autumn Statement 2011. The Deeside zone was announced by the Welsh Government in January 2012.
Agreement to designate sites within zones as eligible for 100% capital allowances was announced at the Autumn Statement 2011 for all zones, apart from in the Humber Green Port Corridor and Deeside zones, which were announced at Budget 2012.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 27 February (WA 253), 1 May (WA 448-9) and 25 June (WA 16-7), whether they will specify the statistically significant results that were reported by researchers at Newcastle University into the bioavailability of fluoride in drinking water in 2004.[HL1389]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The results of the study were summarised by the principal researchers in the article "Bioavailability of Fluoride in Drinking Water: a Human Experimental Study", which was published in the Journal of Dental Research volume 84(11): 989-993, 2005. A copy of this article has been placed in the Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many cases dealt with by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Forced Marriage Unit arose from the Bangladeshi community in the United Kingdom in (1) 2009, (2) 2010, (3) 2011, and (4) 2012 to date. [HL1226]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) captures information about contacts, requests for advice and assistance in relation to possible cases of forced marriage.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the policy advocated by the Prime Minister in his speech on 25 June that recipients of welfare benefits should be described as claimants and not customers will be applied to the National Health Service and HM Revenue and Customs, and users described as patients and taxpayers respectively.[HL1313]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The word "claimants" more accurately describes how certain categories of service users interact with the Department for Work and Pensions. It is for individual departments and agencies to make decisions about their service users.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Strathclyde on 5 July (WA 192), what are the names of all those who travelled on the chartered aircraft with the Prime Minister to the United States on 13 March, other than the aircraft staff, any individuals who will be named in the quarterly publication of ministerial
17 July 2012 : Column WA33
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Strathclyde on 5 July (WA 192), what are the names of the members of the political office and journalists referred to in the Answer.[HL1425]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Strathclyde on 5 July (WA 192), what was the cost charged to the news organisations and the Conservative Party in respect of journalists and members of political offices who travelled with the Prime Minister on a chartered flight to the United States on 13 March.[HL1426]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): It has not been the practice under successive Administrations to name individuals accompanying Ministers on overseas visits. I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 5 July 2012 (Official Report, col. WA192).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, under the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, how the board of a clinical commissioning group will receive local secondary care expertise to inform commissioning decision-making at a local level. [HL1555]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, under the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, clinical commissioning groups will be required to use local expertise in secondary care to inform the commissioning of NHS services at the local level.[HL1562]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Each clinical commissioning group (CCG) must have a governing body, which will have the role of ensuring the CCG exercises its functions effectively, efficiently, economically and with good governance. Its membership must include at least one secondary care specialist who should have no conflict of interest in relation to the CCG's responsibilities. For example, they should not be from a local provider. The role of the secondary care specialist is to provide an independent perspective, informed by their expertise and experience. They are likely to play an important role in making sure that the CCG has effective systems in place for involving a range of healthcare professionals in decision-making.
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 places a duty on CCGs to obtain appropriate advice from a broad range of health and care professionals to enable them to discharge their functions effectively. This would include those with expertise in local secondary care. This could involve, for example, a CCG employing or
17 July 2012 : Column WA34
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is not responsible for the provision of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). The National Defibrillator Programme, which is the responsibility of ambulance trusts and is co-ordinated by the British Heart Foundation, installs AEDs where they are most needed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest estimate of the total number of people working in the healthcare system in England, broken down by professional groups for whom registration is mandatory, and healthcare workers whose registration is voluntary.[HL1375]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The total number of staff employed by the National Health Service in England, including primary care, is 1,350,377 headcount and 1,148,844 full-time equivalents (FTE). For those professional groups for whom registration is mandatory, the information collected is set out in the following table. This does not cover the private sector, voluntary sector or those employed by local authorities.
|England as at September 2011|
There are other staff within the annual workforce census who include both professional groups for whom registration is mandatory and unregistered staff. However, it is not possible to disaggregate the information from the overarching staff groups. For example, general practice staff may include physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths, who are registered, in addition to receptionists and secretaries, who are not. Therefore, the numbers reported in the table may not include all professional groups for whom registration is mandatory.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK, is a member of the Ministerial Working Group on Equality in Mental Health, which is chaired by Paul Burstow MP, Minister for Care Services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 25 June (WA 22-3), what assessment they have made of the findings recently published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine on mitochondrial dysfunction; and whether mitochondrial dysfunction occurs in any medical conditions other than chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis.[HL1336]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We have made no assessment of this study, which looks at mitochondrial function in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.
Mitochondrial disease affects all organ systems and mitochondrial dysfunction has been increasingly linked with a number of neurological conditions including stroke, seizures, ataxia, migraine and Parkinson's disease. There is also an association between mitochondrial dysfunction and a number of retinal degenerations, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, as well as in some cardiac conditions such as cardiomyopathy or conduction defects. The most common condition related to mitochondrial dysfunction in the endocrine system is diabetes and adult onset diabetes has been found to have a mitochondrial component.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Horse passport issuing organisations (PIOs) are required to comply with written efficiency criteria which are supplied to all PIOs. Performance against these criteria is assessed through a programme of independent audits to assess efficiency.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Horse passport issuing organisations (PIOs) must have a system in place to verify the pedigree of registered equidae. There is no obligation to carry out DNA testing in order to meet this requirement, but DNA testing is a commonly used approach.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: DNA testing of horses in order to establish pedigree is not required by legislation or guidance. DNA testing is widely used by recognised horse passport issuing organisations in order to meet the requirement for them to have in place a system to verify the pedigree of registered equidae.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Gypsy Cob Society (also known as Gypsy Cob Society (2010) Ltd) is not a recognised breed organisation or association under the terms of Commission Decision 92/353/EEC. As such, Her Majesty's Government do not recognise the Gypsy Cob Society as holder of the Gypsy Cob stud book.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding from the 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme has been made available to (1) Circle Anglia, (2) East Thames Housing Group, (3) Genesis Housing Association, (4) Metropolitan Housing Trust, (5) One Housing Group, and (6) Swan Housing in London; and how many new (a) affordable rent properties, and (b) low-cost home ownership properties will be built by each as a result.[HL1588]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): From 1 April 2012, the Mayor of London has had oversight of strategic housing, regeneration and economic development in London. Details of the amount of
17 July 2012 : Column WA38
To ask Her Majesty's Government what formula was used to determine the £14 million reduction in the level of historic debt to be redeemed prior to the introduction of housing revenue account self-financing in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets between the consultation paper in 2010 and the final determination in 2012.[HL1589]
Baroness Hanham: The self-financing settlement was subject to a lengthy process of assessment and reassessment in close consultation with all stock-owning local authorities. The early figures were necessarily indicative and as the process developed we made changes to the methodology, updated key data (such as stock numbers and rent levels) and made adjustments regarding changing inflation rates.
We published several models between 2010 and the final determinations in 2012, alongside detailed commentaries, which showed and explained clearly how and why each council's valuation and settlement payment changed over time. These consultation documents are on the department's website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what level of right-to-buy sales were assumed in the calculation of the level of debt allocated to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets under housing revenue account self-financing.[HL1590]
Baroness Hanham: I attach the figures below, which were published on 1 February 2012 and can be found on the department's website at www.communities. gov.uk/publications/housing/selffinancingdeterminations.
Where right-to-buy sales are higher than predicted under self-financing (such as due to the recent increases in discounts) then a proportion of the receipt may be used by the council to pay off the debt related to the additional sold properties. In other words, the local authority will always have sufficient income to service debt.
|Tower Hamlets-Forecast number of Right to Buy sales in self-financing|
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they are limiting the level of right-to-buy capital receipts used in the development of new council housing to 30% of development costs; and whether they will allow local authorities to utilise general fund and housing revenue account reserves to supplement that capital funding.[HL1591]
Baroness Hanham: For the first time, every additional home sold under right to buy will be replaced by a new home for affordable rent. We have limited the level of right-to-buy capital receipts to 30% based on evidence from the 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme. As in the Affordable Homes Programme, the remainder of the cost will come from borrowing against the net rental income stream from the new property, and cross-subsidy from the landlord's own resources. Under the reinvigorated right-to-buy scheme, the right-to-buy receipts effectively replace government grant and by restricting use of receipts to no more than 30% of costs we not only ensure value for money but maximise the number of new homes built.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the aggregated value of imports of cars in 2011, as defined in HM Revenue and Customs' Heading 8703, from outside the European Union; and what was the corresponding gross amount of customs duty charged thereon.[HL1388]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The aggregated value of imports of cars in 2011 within Heading 8,703 was £4,776,701,309.44 and the gross amount of customs duty charged was £121,126,581.14.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the principle that district councils in areas with a county council deliver services on a county-wide basis with one delivery team across the county. [HL1435]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My department does not monitor individual local authorities' delivery arrangements, although we are keen to promote best practice. We are stopping the top-down, micro-management of local government, such as by scrapping local area agreements and comprehensive area assessment.
We have not prevented any joint working or joint delivery arrangements since May 2010. Councils act independently of central government. Indeed, the general power of competence introduced via the Localism Act should make it easier for councils to work together and innovate. The Act also introduces a duty to co-operate in relation to the planning of sustainable development.
We are keen to promote joint working across all tiers of local government to help councils deliver sensible savings and improve front-line services; initiatives such as city deals, community budgets, the growing places fund and the weekly collections support scheme have actively encouraged this.
Baroness Hanham: Ministers have discussions from time to time with the Local Government Boundary Commission for England which can cover a wide range of issues that are relevant to the commission's work and responsibilities. The Government are clear that local authorities can achieve very substantial benefits for their communities and council tax payers by joint working arrangements enabling both the sharing of staff and back-office facilities and the joint provision of front-line services.
For example, the tri-borough initiative in London (across Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster) is on track to save £40 million a year by combining services and management costs. Potentially £2 billion of taxpayers' money could be saved if other councils across the country were able to copy such sensible savings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made an assessment of the disadvantages or advantages of two-tier local government in parts of England, compared to the unitary local government arrangements in Scotland and Wales.[HL1438]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The coalition Government consider that top-down unitary local government restructuring would be expensive, divisive and time-consuming; this is why we legislated through the Local Government Act 2010 to stop the last Administration's unitary local government restructuring in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk, saving an estimated £40 million. A copy of the impact assessment to the Bill can be found in the Library of the House.
There is significant scope for more joint working and sharing of back-office services, both in two-tier areas and in single-tier councils. This can be achieved quickly and efficiently without wholesale restructuring.
For example, the tri-borough initiative in London (across Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster) is on track to save £40 million a year by combining services and management costs. Potentially £2 billion of taxpayers' money could be saved if other councils across the country were able to copy such sensible savings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Garden of Frognal on 3 July (WA 153-4), how much National Lottery or government funding is expected to be spent (1) in total, and (2) on a per capita basis, in support of events forming part of the London Festival 2012 in each of the seven areas of the United Kingdom identified in the London Festival Guide.[HL1376]
Earl Attlee: The Chancellor's Autumn Statement in November 2011 confirmed the Government's support for the Northern Line extension to Battersea. The Department for Transport has regular discussions with representatives of Transport for London (TfL) about the project, to monitor progress and discuss key issues.
The Secretary of State for Transport also accompanied the Chancellor and the Mayor to the Battersea Power Station site shortly after the Chancellor's announced the Government's support for the extension in his Autumn Statement in November 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the National Health Service Commissioning Board Authority is ready to go live in April 2013 with a system in place for monitoring general quality and patient safety.[HL1455]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Quality is a systemic issue. It is not the preserve of any one part of the system. Members of the National Quality Board (NQB) have been working through how the different parts of the system will come together, from April 2013, in order to monitor the quality of care being provided to patients with a view to preventing, identifying and responding to failures in quality. This includes the role that the NHS Commissioning Board will play. The systemic nature of quality requires collective effort and collaboration across the system in order to protect patients, and the NQB is taking forward this important piece of work well in advance of the new system coming into effect from 1 April 2013. The NQB intends to publish its report in final draft format shortly.
As of 1 June 2012, the patient safety function of the National Patient Safety Agency has transferred into the NHS Commissioning Board Authority. The NHS Commissioning Board Authority continues to receive reports of patient safety incidents and to review and disseminate learning from them.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to continue their International Partnership Agreement Programmes with leading non-governmental aid organisations; for what lengths of terms; and with which organisations.[HL1415]
Baroness Northover: DfID has Programme Partnership Arrangements (PPAs) with 38 non-governmental organisations. These three-year grants commenced on 1 April 2011 following a new competitive process and will end on 31 March 2014. A list of the organisations receiving the grants is available on the DfID website: http://wwvv.dfid.gov.uk/Work-with-us/Funding-opportunities/Not-for-profit-organisations/PPAs/.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has publicly stated that this will be the final round of PPAs. We will consider options in the next few months for what will replace the PPAs when the current arrangements end. Information about future arrangements will be available on the DfID website. Any new system will focus on the results to be achieved for poverty alleviation on behalf of the British taxpayer.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the United Kingdom's relations with Paraguay have been affected by the change of president; and whether they will seek international consensus on forest protection, land reform and social justice in Paraguay. [HL1360]
The UK continues to keep the situation in Paraguay under close review, taking account of the ongoing work and discussions in the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the European Union (EU), and in the region.
We welcome the report of the OAS Secretary-General of 10 July, which has examined the facts closely. There clearly are concerns about what has happened. Key areas highlighted include the need to: complete the judicial process; strengthen governance in Paraguay in the transition to the 2013 elections by promoting public dialogue and supporting the legal reforms that may help avoid further crises; and ensure the electoral process is participatory and transparent, and that there are no reprisals or exclusions, especially against former President Lugo or his supporters.
A spokesperson of Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, issued a statement on 23 June expressing concern and calling on all parties to respect the democratic will of the Paraguayan people. We will be working with our EU partners to see what the EU can do to support.
We are committed to strengthening our relationship with Paraguay. We plan to reopen an embassy in Asuncion in mid-2013. This new embassy will further strengthen British diplomatic engagement in the Latin American region; will help to unlock commercial opportunities for British companies in this significant market; and will allow us to work closely with Paraguay on regional issues such as counter-narcotics and organised crime. These will be our priorities, but the issues that the noble Lord raises are important and are not unrelated to our interest in supporting democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Paraguay.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the time spent by female prisoners in the open air at HMP Eastwood Park, following the recommendation of the July report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.[HL1509]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is considering the recommendations made in
17 July 2012 : Column WA44
NOMS residential services specification requires that prisoners are afforded a minimum of 30 minutes in the open air daily, subject to weather conditions and the need to maintain good order and discipline, and Eastwood Park is currently meeting this requirement.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in reviewing the monitoring and governance of the use of force and the use of special accommodation at HMP Woodhill to achieve a reduction in their use, following the report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons published on 29 June. [HL1510]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): HMP Woodhill has taken a number of steps to improve monitoring and governance of use of force and special accommodation since the inspection including: increasing the frequency of use of force review meetings; increasing the seniority of the manager who presides over these meetings to governing governor level; weekly checks of all use of force paperwork; and the use of formal staff meetings to focus on the issues around special accommodation. As a result there has been a year-on-year reduction in the use of force from 187 incidents in January to June 2011 to 159 in the same period of 2012; use of special accommodation has also declined from 16 instances in the period September 2011 through January 2012 to only six instances between February and June this year.
Earl Attlee: The track access charges levied on rail freight operators in the next railway funding control period from 2014 to 2019 are matters for the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), which is the independent economic and safety regulator for the railways in Great Britain.
Some elements of these charges are the subject of a current ORR consultation on the variable usage charge and a freight-specific charge, which can be found on the ORR's website at www.rail-reg.gov.uk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, pursuant to The Grant-in-aid for Royal Travel by Air and Rail Annual Report 2011-12, (1) whether members of the Royal Family other than the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh travel by scheduled airlines for all overseas visits for which such flights are available, and, if not, why not; (2) what class of air travel members of the Royal Family and their staff use when on scheduled flights; (3) whether members of the Royal Family other than the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh travel by scheduled train services where these are available, rather than by air, and if not, why not; and (4) why the Prince of Wales used a charter flight from London to Riyadh at a cost of £67,215.[HL1419]
Earl Attlee: Expenditure of the royal grant-in-aid budget is the responsibility of the Royal Household. Detailed accounts showing how the grant-in-aid has been spent during 2011-12 have been published in the Royal Public Finances: Annual Report 2011-12 http://www.royal.gov.uk/ LatestNewsandDiary/AnnualFinancialReports/Annualfinancialreports.aspx. In deciding the most appropriate mode of travel for official travel, the household will have regard to the following key criteria:safety;security;value for money;length of journey;minimising the disruption to others;effective use of the Royal Family's time;environmental impact; andtransport which is consistent with the requirement and dignity of the occasion.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of refugees who have fled from Blue Nile State into South Sudan; whether they have sent officials to assess the conditions in Jamam camp and other refugee camps; and whether they concur with the assessment of aid agencies that, in addition to widespread malaria, an outbreak of cholera is imminent.[HL1448]
Baroness Northover: We estimate there to be around 107,000 people displaced from Blue Nile State into South Sudan since fighting began in Sept 2011. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Stephen O'Brien, visited Jamam Camp in April 2012 to assess conditions there, and was concerned at the high numbers of people, the lack of access to safe water and the risk of flooding. Officials from DfID Juba remain in close contact with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and NGO workers at the Jamam, and other refugee camps in Upper Nile State, and are aware of the increased risk of cholera. The UK remains one of the leading donors to the humanitarian response. DfID has already allocated over £29 million to humanitarian response in South Sudan. Our support will help to provide over 130,000 people with clean drinking water and 100,000 people with emergency food assistance. In response to increasing needs, the UNHCR has also bid for $20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, to which the UK contributes 20%.
Baroness Northover: A contract for the design, construction and operation of the airport on St Helena was signed by the St Helena Government and Basil Read (Pty) Ltd of South Africa on 2 November 2011.
The detailed design and preliminary works are progressing well. On 10 July 2012, Basil Read's dedicated ship became the first vessel of its size ever to dock in St Helena, using a temporary wharf constructed under the project to deliver major construction equipment and materials. Construction of the access road to the airport site is well ahead of schedule. The project is currently providing employment for more than 150 Saints.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the numbers of refugees fleeing Blue Nile and South Kordofan have now reached the official United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees threshold required to declare an official emergency; whether the number of children fleeing has exceeded the threshold required for the declaration of an official emergency; and whether they agree with the assessment of Médecins Sans Frontières that there are now more than 120,000 refugees and that the situation constitutes "a full blown emergency". [HL1449]
Baroness Northover: According to the latest estimates from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there are currently 162,500 refugees in
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Earl Attlee: Phase two of the Nottingham Express Transit scheme, work on which commenced at the beginning of this year, is progressing well, providing significant supply chain and job opportunities. The works are being co-ordinated with a major £67 million refurbishment of Nottingham Station to create a world-class transport interchange and gateway to the City of Nottingham. The extended Nottingham Express Transit system will improve accessibility to almost 2,000 workplaces in the conurbation, including both of the city's universities and the largest hospital in the area-the Queen's Medical Centre-and overall will serve 20 of the 30 largest employers in Greater Nottingham.
Earl Attlee: The Government recognise the many clear benefits of light rail schemes-they are good for passengers, good for local economies and in the right circumstances can be an effective and efficient means of taking large numbers of passengers directly into the heart of a city, so reducing traffic congestion and greatly improving accessibility.
In addition, the Department for Transport is working with the light-rail sector, including UKTram, to take forward actions arising from the Department for Transport report Green Light for Light Rail, published in September 2011, in order to make light-rail schemes more cost-effective in the future .
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 16 May (WA 9), why they consider it appropriate for honours to continue to refer to the British Empire.[HL1494]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: As stated in my Answer on 16 May, the Order of the British Empire was founded to recognise those who had fought in the First World War tradition and its title remembers the British Empire, which was the largest empire in history.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Universal credit (UC) is being designed as a predominantly online service. This approach is in line with the Government's digital by default objectives.
Documents will still need to be verified as part of the claims process. Risk tools will allow us to target verification activity where it is most needed depending on the claimant and/or the type of transaction they are undertaking. The risk assessment tools will become more sophisticated over time, meaning that levels of staff verification activity will be higher in early stages.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of Norfolk County Council's decision to withdraw its participation in the Borough Council of West Norfolk's poll on the installation of a new incinerator near King's Lynn, what guidance they offer local authorities on participation in, and response to the results of, local polls.[HL1489]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government are a localist Government and the holding of polls to seek a community's view on an issue is entirely a matter for the councils concerned. The Government therefore issue no guidance on such matters.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of Norfolk County Council's decision to withdraw its participation in the Borough Council of West Norfolk's poll on the installation of a new incinerator near King's Lynn, whether the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will intervene in this planning decision.[HL1490]
Baroness Hanham: Following Norfolk County Council's decision to be minded to approve the planning application for the energy from waste plant at King's Lynn, the Secretary of State is now carefully considering whether or not the application should be called in for his determination.
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