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To ask Her Majesty's Government how many abortions have been performed under the provisions of the Abortion Act 1967 (as amended by Section 37 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990) to the latest date available; and how many of those abortions were to save the life of the pregnant woman.[HL1563]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Between 1968 and 2011 (the latest year for which figures are available) there have been 6.4 million abortions performed on residents of England and Wales. Of these, 143 (0.006%) were performed under Section 1(4), ie where the termination is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.
A further 23,778 (0.37%) abortions were performed under Section 1(1)(c), ie that the continuance of pregnancy would involve the risk to the life of the woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times in each of the past five years (1) British Airways, (2) easyJet, (3) Virgin Atlantic, (4) United Airlines, and (5) Ryanair, have been audited in respect of collection and payment of air passenger duty.[HL1502]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave on 3 July (Official Report, col. WA134). Airlines are audited on a rolling basis, in line with many of the other taxes managed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government continue to follow the situation in Bahrain closely. We engage with a wide range of interlocutors and this includes members of Al Wefaq.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) visited Bahrain on 12 June and met representatives from several political parties and opposition groups including Al Wefaq. He has also met members of the opposition in London.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 29 March 2011 (WA 235-6), which stated that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) might "in certain circumstances" consider the conduct of firms in setting the LIBOR, whether the FSA did review the conduct of these firms; and, if so, what were the circumstances that led to it doing so.[HL1369]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority's (FSA's) own report of the Barclays investigation makes clear that it began investigating issues relating to LIBOR in 2009. The FSA and competition authorities and regulators in North America, Europe (including DG Competition), Switzerland and Japan are currently investigating LIBOR, EURIBOR and other leading benchmark rates for alleged manipulation at other banks, both by banks and individual traders.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the calculations and conclusions reached by the Holtham Commission on the adequacy of funding provided to Wales by the Barnett Formula in order to sustain acceptable levels of public services in Wales.[HL1497]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the level of funding they have allocated to addressing cycling blackspots is sufficient, based on the number of applications for funding they have received.[HL1577]
Earl Attlee: On 26 June the Government announced £15 million of capital support to improve safety at junctions identified as having a record of road incidents that have resulted in cyclists being killed or seriously injured. The Government will be writing to authorities shortly to set out how the bidding process will work.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the penalty for the offence of cycling on pavements was not uprated in the recent increases in penalties for other road traffic offences, and whether they will now review the existing penalty to bring it into line with inflation and the seriousness of the offence.[HL1678]
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport issued a consultation paper on 14 June proposing to increase the penalties for a wide range of motoring fixed penalty offences. The fixed penalty notice penalty for cycling on a footway is currently £30 and has been that level since 2000. One of the options in the consultation document is to increase £30 penalties to £45 where they apply to motoring fixed penalty offences, other than for parking. Pedal cycle offences are listed in the document as one of the types of offence in the scope of this option.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of green coffee bean extract as an aid for weight loss; and whether they have any plans to allow the National Health Service to prescribe the extract for obese patients.[HL1544]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 27 February (WA 230-1) relating to the Heswall Disabled Children's Holiday Fund, when they expect to conclude their inquiries and make a decision in connection with the regulatory framework.[HL1081]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We will be consulting on changes to the regulatory framework from September 2012. This consultation will be for one month.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 3 July (WA 142), what assessment they have made of the burden that the carrying of disposable breathalysers would place on motorists.[HL1580]
Earl Attlee: As I indicated in Written Answer (WA 142) on 3 July, the Government have not assessed the potential impact of requiring the carrying of the disposable breathalysers system by drivers in the UK, because they have no plans to introduce such a system. One risk of such a system is that more drivers might be tempted to drive when close to the legal limit. The Government will however be interested to learn from the experience in France.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the policy of the Scottish Government to obtain all of Scotland's electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, what estimates they have made of the impact this will have on household and industrial bills in (1) England, (2) Scotland, and (3) Wales. [HL1495]
Baroness Stowell of Beeston: Latest estimates of the average impact on household and industrial bills from measures to support renewable energy are given in the renewable obligation banding consultation1, feed-in tariff Government response phase 2A2 and feed-in tariff consultation phase 2B3(links to these documents are below). These estimates are based on the cost of renewable electricity needed to keep the UK on track to meet its overall renewable energy target of 15% by 2020.
Any difference in bill impacts in England, Scotland and Wales will depend on the amount of electricity consumed each year and the extent to which electricity is sourced from on-site generation-which would not be subject to the renewable obligation subsidy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Planning policy does not include an exclusion zone between wind turbines and dwellings. Rather, impacts should be assessed on a case by case basis taking into account the context, such as the local topography.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they agreed at the meeting of ECOFIN on 2 July that minimum taxation levels should be laid down in the
19 July 2012 : Column WA76
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): EU minimum levels of energy taxation are already set out in the current energy taxation directive which has been in force since 2004. The Government accept there is now a case for reviewing these minimum taxation levels, for example to take account of inflation since these levels were set in 2003.
The Government are committed to ensuring there is no further transfer of sovereignty or powers to the EU over the course of this Parliament. Government's views on the proposal are set out in the Explanatory Memorandum [9270/11 which was submitted to Parliament in June 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 30 April (WA 402), what were the full details of extradition requests received and surrenders made under the European arrest warrant, broken down by country, in each year between 2004 and 2010 inclusive. [HL986]
According to the Serious Organised Crime Agency's records, the following tables show the total number of extradition requests received and surrenders which were made under the European arrest warrant in each year between 2004-10 inclusive, the details of the requests received for April to December 2009 and for 2010 and the details of the surrenders made for April to December 2009 and for 2010.
|Year||Part one Requests Received||Part one Surrenders|
|Part one Requests Received by Country||Apr-Dec 2009||2010|
|Part one Surrenders by Country||Apr-Dec 2009||2010|
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The media environment in Georgia remains largely polarised, with limited independent or impartial reporting available. A new law on media ownership transparency was passed in 2011 and the Government of Georgia are currently introducing "Must Offer, Must Carry" legislation which stipulates that cable operators must carry all Georgian channels with news programmes during the 60 day period before this autumn's parliamentary elections. We believe that further reform would encourage greater media transparency and pluralism.
Georgia is one of several countries currently subject to the Council of Europe's monitoring procedure. This assesses compliance with Council of Europe obligations and commitments, including on media freedom. The Council of Europe is co-funding a project with the European Union on promoting media freedom, professionalism and pluralism in the South Caucasus and Moldova.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The President of Georgia has invited the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to monitor the parliamentary election in October. PACE has confirmed it will send observers, and the delegation list has now been approved.
Earl Attlee: Since 23 April 2012 the Government Car and Despatch Agency has supplied cars to departments as departmental pool cars for use by all Ministers. Cars are no longer allocated to an individual and therefore there is no single official car used by each Secretary of State.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 15 March (WA 107-9), whether the Secretary of State for Education visited Durand Academy on 24 November 2010, 30 June, 1 September 2011 and 30 November 2011.[HL488]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education visited
19 July 2012 : Column WA79
A further search shows that there were five other school visits which were not listed in the published response (Official Report, 15 March, col. WA 107-9). I apologise on behalf of officials for this error.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, under the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, how the training tariff for medical and dental postgraduate training will be calculated, particularly in relation to the training levy.[HL1552]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government are committed to the principle of tariffs for education and training as the foundation to a transparent funding regime. We will introduce tariffs for non-medical education and training and undergraduate clinical placements for medical students in the hospital sector from April 2013, phased over a number of years. The department is working with strategic health authorities and service providers during 2012-13 to develop transition plans.
We are also working with stakeholders to develop proposals for tariffs for postgraduate medical training programmes. We will continue to work with stakeholders to develop tariffs for postgraduate medical training programmes and consider an appropriate pace of transition, taking into account the financial impact of the other tariffs.
There are a number of diverse views on the proposal to raise the education and training budget through a levy on providers. This illustrates the complexity associated with the proposal and the need for detailed work before firm proposals can be brought forward for consultation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, under the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, what recourse secondary care providers will have in circumstances where they have evidence that a commissioning decision is adversely affecting patient diagnosis or care.[HL1556]
Earl Howe: There is no general provision under the Health and Social Care Act for providers to object to the decisions commissioners make concerning the services they commission for their patient population.
Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations on requirements for commissioners to adhere to good practice in the procurement of healthcare services. The onus will be on commissioners to act transparently and to be able to demonstrate the rationale for their decisions in terms of patient benefits.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how contracts entered into by specialised commissioning groups will be honoured in circumstances where those groups are abolished under the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 before those contracts end.[HL1558]
Earl Howe: All clinical contracts held for specialised services that continue post March 2013 will be transferred to the NHS Commissioning Board under the transfer schemes and orders as required by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): A minority of the Leader's Group's recommendations can be implemented by means of a resolution of the House. Of those that can, the only recommendations that have not been put to the House for decision are recommendation 27-the adoption of a resolution affirming the House's intention to use votes on delegated legislation "to delay, rather than finally to defeat, such legislation"-and recommendation 55, which would introduce a 2 pm sitting time for the House on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The majority of the Leader's Group's recommendations required further development, principally through the domestic committees of the House, before they could be put to the House for decision. At my instigation, the majority of recommendations from the Leader's Group were considered in this way. Some of them were subsequently put to the House for decision while others were rejected by the relevant committee before the House could take a view (see 8th, 10th and 11th Reports from the Procedure Committee, Session 2010-12; 3rd Report from the Liaison Committee, Session 2010-12; and the minutes of the relevant meetings).
Of those recommendations that have been put to the House for decision, the most significant recommendations-for example, recommendation 1 in respect of the role of the Lord Speaker and recommendation 20 in respect of the commitment of Bills to Grand Committee-have been rejected by the House.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of recent reports about the use of court-ordered virginity tests in Iraq. We deplore any instances where women's rights have been violated. We will discuss these reports with the Government of Iraq and continue to urge the Iraqi authorities to respect the human rights of all Iraqi citizens.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel concerning their alleged use of live fire in recent military exercises in Al Aqaba village in the Jordan valley.[HL1522]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We understand there was an Israeli Defence Force exercise in Al Aqaba in June, during which live fire was reportedly used. We have not raised this specific incident with the Israeli authorities.
More broadly, we remain concerned by social and economic developments in Area C of the West Bank. The European Union has formally demarched Israel to outline our shared concern at worrying developments in Area C. These developments were a major theme of the meeting of European Foreign Ministers on 14 May. (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/130195.pd.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will propose that the part of Kosovo north of the River Ibar should remain under international administration until its future is settled by agreement. [HL1559]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is a longstanding supporter of an independent, sovereign Kosovo, within its current borders. This includes the territory north of the River Ibar.
The Government believe the European Union-facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade is crucial for helping to address the challenges in northern Kosovo and for improving the lives of those who live there. We encourage both sides to re-engage constructively in the dialogue once government formation in Serbia is complete.
We support the European Commission's recommendation that the Kosovo Government should set out and implement a strategy for addressing the challenges in northern Kosovo. In this context, we welcome the opening of the Mitrovica North Administrative Office, which represents the first step in the Kosovo Government's efforts to provide real, practical support to its Serb citizens in the north.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Personnel Recovery Centres offer residential facilities to those wounded, injured and sick, serving personnel from across the Armed Forces undergoing recovery as well as providing facilities for day attendees. Working in partnership with Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion, they are focused on helping an individual reach a point where they are able to return to duty or transition to civilian life.
As such the centres have not been established to provide support to service veterans. However, under certain conditions and where there is spare capacity, our partners may allocate spaces to veterans. These spaces are funded by the service charities and the Ministry of Defence does not record these numbers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of what impact the proposal of the Office of Rail Regulation to increase charges for carrying iron ore by rail will have on the future prospects of the steel industry in Scunthorpe. [HL1571]
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 http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding has been provided to or from the Department for Transport by or for each of the rail passenger franchises, and Network Rail, during the past financial year.[HL1572]
|Rail Subsidy-Toc Data 2011-12|
|Train Operating Company||Subsidy/(premia) £m|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to encourage parents and guardians to register their children as eligible for free school meals so as to ensure schools receive their maximum pupil premium allocation.[HL1568]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government are committed to increasing the take-up of free school meals for all pupils who are entitled to them. We want disadvantaged children to benefit from a nutritious meal, and for their schools to receive pupil premium funding which will help them to help raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
In addition to the work that we have funded the School Food Trust to undertake on our behalf to increase the take-up of school lunches, the department
19 July 2012 : Column WA85
The school census figures published on 21 June 2012 show that registration for free school meals increased by 0.1% in both primary and secondary schools nationally. This masks some considerable variation at local level, where registrations fell by as much as 5.9% in some areas but increased by 4.1% in others. We shall therefore turn our attention again to the issue this autumn, including encouraging local campaign activity where registration figures are particularly low.
Our funding for the School Food Trust enables it to carry out further work to improve the take-up of healthy school lunches, and specifically to increase take-up of free school meals. The trust has just published the results of its annual take-up survey, and this shows that take-up of school lunches was 46.3% in primary schools and 39.8% in secondary schools. This represents an increase over 2010-11 of 2.2 percentage points in both the primary and secondary sectors. This equates to about 167,000 more pupils taking school lunches in 2011-12.
We have also streamlined the application process for free school meals by developing an on-line eligibility checking system, which allows local authorities to check data held by DWP, HMRC and the Home Office to establish a family's free school meal eligibility very quickly. We are encouraging local authorities to increase their use of this resource, which as well as reducing bureaucracy and cost for local authorities is also encouraging more parents to sign up their children for a free school lunch. For those authorities that choose to use it, the eligibility checking service allows parents to check their own eligibility and to apply on-line for free school meals.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the approval granted by the Department for Education for the Beccles Free School, whether
19 July 2012 : Column WA86
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Free school proposers are required to provide strong evidence of demand from parents for places at the school as well as undertake a public consultation, to allow people to express their views on the free school proposal. This includes the views of parents who wish to send their children to the free school.
The Secretary of State considers evidence of demand for places at the school, alongside other information, and takes the consultation into account when considering whether to enter into a funding agreement with the academy trust. Once approved, proposers are also expected to continue to market their schools throughout the pre-opening stage.
The consultation report on Beccles Free School was published on the school's website and a copy can be seen at: httr://www.becclesfreeschool.org.uk/.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are strongly opposed to all forms of whaling other than limited whaling operations by indigenous people for clearly defined subsistence purposes.
We are aware of reports that South Korea is planning to resume whaling for scientific purposes. Our ambassador to Seoul raised the UK's concerns about this issue with officials in the president's office on 6 July 2012.
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