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Written Answers

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Warsi on 24 September (WS126–27), in what ways and to what extent local government officials in Helmand have taken control of vital infrastructure; and how the United Kingdom is currently supporting the local government.[HL2456]

Baroness Northover: The Helmand provincial government have full responsibility for delivering public services, including vital infrastructure. The provincial government also co-ordinate all Afghan government departments operating in Helmand to ensure that the provision of infrastructure meets the needs of Helmandis.

The UK, with our Danish partners, supports local government in Helmand by providing financial and technical assistance. This includes support to the operation and maintenance of key infrastructure.

Animals: Micro-chipping Pets

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made on the compulsory micro-chipping of pets.[HL2638]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The Government recently completed a consultation on a package of proposals to tackle irresponsible ownership of dogs, including proposals for the microchipping of dogs. The consultation attracted a higher than expected 27,000 responses which are currently being analysed and summarised. The quantity and complexity of the issues under consideration has delayed progress. We expect to make an announcement soon.

Armed Forces: Commemoration

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 3 July (WA 133),

23 Oct 2012 : Column WA46

whether a decision has been taken on placing the Merchant Navy Medal in the Order of Wear in recognition of the Diamond Jubilee Year and 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.[HL2650]

Earl Attlee: It is taking longer than anticipated to reach a decision on this matter, which is still under consideration by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals.

Bees

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will adopt a national bee action plan to reverse the decline in the bee population and to reduce the negative cost impact on agriculture.[HL2635]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Defra recognises the importance of all pollinators, including bees, and their value to both food security and sustaining the natural environment. We are currently considering a range of evidence on the state of bees and other pollinators in order to determine what action is required.

Civil Service: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many civil servants at each of grades 1, 2 and 3 have left or indicated their intention to leave the Department for Transport since May 2010; and what percentage these figures represent of the total employees at each of those grades in May 2010.[HL2610]

Earl Attlee: The numbers of staff in the Department for Transport at the Senior Civil Service grades 1, 2 and 3 in May 2010 and October 2012 are set out in the table below:

Grade/TitleMay 2010October 2012

1 (Permanent Secretary)

1

1

2 (Director General)

7

6

3 (Director)

31

27

Of the staff in post in May 2010 the department staff at the following grades have left the department and the reasons for leaving:

Grade/TitlePromotion to post in an Other Government Department.Level Transfer to Other Government DepartmentRetirementVoluntary ExitTotal%age of staff in post at May 2010

1 Permanent Secretary

0

2

0

0

2

100%

2 Director General

1

1

2

0

4

57%

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3 Director

0

2

4

4

10

34%

The department does not hold a record of people’s intention to leave the department.

Education: English

Question

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure improvement in the teaching and examining of English in the school system. [HL2279]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government's reforms are aimed at strengthening teacher quality, providing additional early support for reading, and introducing a world class English curriculum and qualifications.

The Government have introduced stronger financial incentives to attract the best graduates to train as teachers in subjects, including English, where they are needed most. They have also published new teacher standards, which include a requirement to be able to “demonstrate an understanding of and take responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy, articulacy and the correct use of standard English, whatever the teacher's specialist subject”.

The new national curriculum will give teachers more freedom to teach imaginatively. The Government have already published the new draft programme of study for English at key stages 1-2.

For pupils in the early stage of primary education, the Government are providing up to £3,000 of match-funding to schools with key stage 1 pupils to enable them to buy effective systematic synthetic phonics products and/or training. A phonics screening check has been introduced to ensure that children who need extra help are identified and can receive additional support.

We are also making changes to emphasise the importance of correct spelling and grammar, including a new grammar, punctuation and spelling test which is being introduced at key stage 2 next year. We have recently announced that all secondary schools will receive £500 for each pupil who has not reached level 4 in reading or mathematics at the start of year 7, to enable them to catch up with their peers by being given small-group or individual support. At key stage 4, we are introducing more rigorous and challenging English baccalaureate certificates (EBCs), which provide greater differentiation for the most able; make proper demands for literacy and numeracy; and prepare students to progress to further study. Those who do not achieve the benchmarks expected by employers and higher education in literacy and numeracy by 16 will be expected to continue to study towards EBCs in English and mathematics post-16.

Education: GCSEs

Question

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord Hill of Oareford on 24 September (WS139–41), what formal consultation the Department for Education undertook with teachers, parents and pupils before announcing its reform of GCSEs.[HL2459]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department launched its consultation on proposals for reforming key stage 4 qualifications on 17 September. A copy of the consultation, which runs until 10 December, has been placed in the House Libraries.

The consultation opens up our proposals for reform for wide discussion and we are seeking views from across the sector and from the general public. We recognise the importance of taking the views of teachers, pupils and parents into account as part of this discussion and will be doing so throughout the consultation period.

Education: Pre-school

Question

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their plans to improve pre-school provision throughout the country; and whether this involves support for the Early Intervention Foundation Consortium.[HL2369]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Improving the quality of, and access to, early education is one of the coalition Government's priorities.

In September 2012 we introduced a revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which sets the standards to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It will reduce bureaucracy and paperwork, allowing practitioners to spend more time with children. It places a stronger emphasis on learning and development, with a clearer focus on the key areas of learning and development that are essential for children's healthy development and readiness for school. Assessment at age five has been simplified. The new EYFS also encourages stronger engagement between professionals and parents, and promotes earlier intervention for children who need extra help through the introduction of a progress check for two year-olds.

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All children aged three and four are entitled to 15 hours of free early education a week for 38 weeks a year. Revised statutory guidance introduced in September 2012 sets out minimum quality standards which free entitlement providers will have to meet. From September 2013, 20% of two year-olds will benefit from the same entitlement to free early education, with 40% (about 260,000 children) benefiting the year after.

On 19 June 2012, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a commission on childcare which will report this autumn. The commission is looking at how to reduce the costs of childcare for working families and burdens on childcare providers, without compromising quality of provision.

The Government have competitively tendered for the establishment of an early intervention foundation and that process is still underway.

Education: Public Examinations

Question

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address issues of integrity and accountability in the regulation of public examinations in England.[HL2281]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. It is Ofqual's duty to ensure that qualifications are correctly valued and understood, now and in the future. Ofqual is a non-ministerial government department, accountable directly to Parliament.

Ministers have publicly committed to restoring confidence in the exams system by strengthening Ofqual to make it a more assertive and powerful regulator. New powers within the Education Act 2011 give Ofqual the ability to fine awarding organisations.

Elections: Police and Crime Commissioners

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will raise public awareness and participation in the elections for police and crime commissioners; in particular, how the central website and free phone line will be publicised; and whether they will issue guidance to returning officers on the discretion they may have to ensure that details of candidates and their proposals are known to voters.[HL2567]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Home Office has launched an advertising campaign, including TV and radio, which we estimate will reach 85% of voters across the 41 forces to explain the reforms and encourage participation in the elections. Information about every candidate will be published online and paper copies

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delivered to anyone who requests them. Details of the website and how to request paper copies using a free phone line are on the advertisements and will appear on every voter's poll card.

Returning officers have a duty to encourage participation in the police and crime commissioners elections, with regard to guidance issued by the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission has also issued guidance for candidates on how to run their campaigns. Raising awareness of candidates and their proposals is for the candidates themselves and the Home Office will not be issuing any further guidance for returning officers.

Employment: Young People

Question

Asked by Lord Janner of Braunstone

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to increase employment opportunities for the younger generation, in the light of more people continuing to work until they are older. [HL2585]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Youth Contract, worth almost £1 billion, was introduced in April 2012 and it will provide nearly half a million new opportunities to young unemployed people over the next three years. It will provide 160,000 wage incentives, an extra 250,000 work experience places and an extra 20,000 apprentice incentive payments taking the total number to 40,000.

The Youth Contract builds on existing support available through Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme, enabling young unemployed people to look for work, gain work experience and skills, and find real, lasting jobs.

Energy: Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how recent energy price increases have affected Big Energy Saving Week.[HL2643]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The aim of Big Energy Saving Week is to publicise and put people in touch with sources of help that can reduce their energy bills.

Key messages are that people can save money on their bills by taking advantage of free and subsidised insulation offered by the large energy companies and by switching to the cheapest tariffs. The recent energy price increases have highlighted the importance of this campaign and its messages.

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Forced Marriage

Question

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to eradicate child marriage in the United Kingdom.[HL2521]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government are committed to tackling the practice of forced marriage, including child (or early) marriage and providing the best protection possible to victims.

Our Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) operates both in the UK, where support is provided to any individual, and overseas, where consular assistance is provided to British nationals, including dual nationals. Last year the FMU provided advice or support in almost 1,500 cases.

Government: Cabinet Ministers

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons continues to be the senior Minister outside the Cabinet.[HL2462]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I refer the noble Lord to the list of Her Majesty's Government on the No. 10 website at http://www.number10.gov.uk/the-coalition/the-government/ which sets out the members of the Cabinet and Ministers who attend Cabinet.

Higher Education: Funding

Questions

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many places were available for full-time undergraduates, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England or the Student Loans Company, in (1) 2010–11, (2) 2011–12, and (3) 2012–13.[HL2639]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: HEFCE provides a block grant for teaching to institutions. It is up to institutions to decide how much of this is spent on full-time, part-time, undergraduate or postgraduate students.

Since 2009-10, HEFCE has had controls on full-time undergraduate entrants in place for each institution, with penalties for overrecruitment. The total student number controls have been:

(1) 2010-11: 364,537;

(2) 2011-12: 364,325; and

(3) 2012-13: 353,415

Note that the 2012-13 figure is an implied student number control including places awarded through the margin and estimated numbers of entrants with AAB

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grades who are no longer subject to the student number control. The number of places available is determined by the above HEFCE controls rather than through the Student Loans Company. Any student who applies to Student Finance England and meets the eligibility criteria is entitled to claim student support. Total admissions permitted under HEFCE number controls are greater than government planning assumptions because HEFCE experience is that when setting limits for institutions with financial penalties associated with breaching those limits, there is a tendency for the sector, in aggregate, to fall short.

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many full-time undergraduates funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England or the Student Loans Company were aged (1) between 18 and 24, and (2) over 24, in the academic years (a) 2010–11, (b) 2011–12, and (c) 2012–13.[HL2640]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: According to Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and individualised learner record (ILR) data, the number of full-time UK and EU undergraduates funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in academic year 2010-11 was:

Age GroupNo. of fundable students (000s)

Under 18 [1]

2

18 to 24 [1]

823

Over 24 [1]

82

Other [2]

13

Total

920

HESA and ILR data are unavailable for academic years 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The number of English domiciled students studying in the UK or EU domiciled studying in England taking a loan from the Student Loans Company (SLC) to pay for tuition fees is shown in the table below:

Age GroupFee loan borrowers (000s)

Under 18 [1]

1

18 to 24 [1]

737

Over 24 [1]

87

Total

825

SLC data are unavailable for academic years 2011-12 and 2012-13.

[1] Ages taken as at start of AY 2010-11 ie 31.08.2010.

Under 18—started before 18th birthday—date of birth after 31.08.1992.

18 to 24—started on or after 18th but before 25th birthday—date of birth between 01.09.1985 and 31.08.1992.

Over 24—started on or after 25th birthday—date of birth prior to 01.09.1985.

Tuition fee loans are paid to higher education institutions on behalf of English domiciled students attending full-time courses in the UK and EU domiciled students studying full-time courses in England.

[2] Age at start of AY 2010-11 unknown.

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Illiteracy

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which departments have ring-fenced funds to combat illiteracy; and, in each case, how much is ring-fenced.[HL2528]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Marland): Further education colleges and providers have a single adult skills budget providing them with the flexibility to respond to local learner and employer needs. There are no separate budgets for adult literacy provision.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills does not hold information on other government departments' spend on literacy.

Immigration Removal Centres: Strip Searches

Questions

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they have taken since HM Chief Inspector of Prisons reported in August that at Dover Immigration Removal Centre the reasons for carrying out strip searches were not adequately recorded and that a high number of strip searches were authorised retrospectively.[HL2530]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Immediately following the inspection, this issue was considered by the service provider and action taken. Changes to improve quality of recording of full searches and procedures have been implemented with a senior manager responsible for authorisation. These actions are monitored through a monthly audit.

Individuals detained will only be subject to a full search on specific intelligence and risk assessment.

The centre manager is seeking to modify the public entrance to provide a more discreet searching area. Officers conducting searches are all appropriately trained and required to conduct searches with regard to religious and cultural sensitivities.

A service improvement plan in response to the full recommendations from the inspection report has been completed and will be implemented.

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what changes they have made to the arrangements for visitors to Dover Immigration Removal Centre following the report of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons that the searching of visitors was not carried out in private.[HL2531]

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Immediately following the inspection, this issue was considered by the service provider and action taken. Changes to improve quality of recording of full searches and procedures have been implemented with a senior manager responsible for authorisation. These actions are monitored through a monthly audit.

Individuals detained will only be subject to a full search on specific intelligence and risk assessment.

The centre manager is seeking to modify the public entrance to provide a more discreet searching area. Officers conducting searches are all appropriately trained and required to conduct searches with regard to religious and cultural sensitivities.

A service improvement plan in response to the full recommendations from the inspection report has been completed and will be implemented.

Milk

Question

Asked by Lord Knight of Weymouth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of the European Union school milk subsidy scheme.[HL2565]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The European Court of Auditors carried out an evaluation of the EU school milk and school fruit schemes in 2011 (Special Report No 10/2011—Are the School Milk and School Fruit Schemes effective?). The European Court of Auditors assessed the effectiveness of both schemes, examining whether the EU subsidies have a direct impact on the beneficiaries' consumption and if the schemes are likely to meet their educational objectives and influence future eating habits.

A full report of the evaluation, including the formal reply of the EU Commission, is available on the European Court of Auditors website at: http://eca.europa. eu/portal/pls/portal/docs/l/9390724.PDF. The UK experience is reflected in the Court of Auditor's report.

North Korea

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what financial support they will provide for radio broadcasts and other media transmission into North Korea, either by radio stations run by North Korean exiles or by broadcasters such as the BBC.[HL2428]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We do not currently provide any financial support for media transmissions into North Korea. Given the difficulty in measuring the impact of media transmission, the possibility of signals being blocked and that others are investing in broadcasting into North Korea, the British Government consider that they will get better value for their available funds by investing them in English language training and scholarships programmes.

23 Oct 2012 : Column WA55

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of North Korea regarding the case of the relatives of the defector Mr Oh Kil Nam, whom the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded on 2 May 2012 were being detained arbitrarily.[HL2430]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: To date, the British Government have not raised the case of the relatives of Dr Oh Kil Nam with the North Korean Government. We do, however, regularly raise our wider concerns about reported human rights abuses in North Korea with the North Korean Government, both in London and Pyongyang. Most recently on 28 September 2012, our outgoing ambassador raised our concerns in a meeting with Kim Yong-Nam, the chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.

Offenders: Learning

Question

Asked by Lord Ramsbotham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in the light of their 2011 review of offender learning what is their assessment of the impact of the fourth phase of the Offenders' Learning and Skills Services contracts (OLASS 4) on the provision of distance learning and arts training in the criminal justice system. [HL2394]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: New Offenders' Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) contracts have been in place in seven of the 10 units of procurement since 1 August 2012. New contracts in the three remaining units of procurement begin on 1 November 2012. It is therefore too soon to form an assessment of the impact of these new contracts on the provision of distance learning and arts provision in custody.

Providers are required to support prisoners undertaking distance learning. In addition, the Virtual Campus, a very secure, web-based interactive learning tool, is now live in 101 prisons and is in the process of being rolled out to all prisons where feasible. A wide selection of distance learning materials, including Open University content, is accessible via the Virtual Campus. OLASS 4 contracts require providers to develop innovative ways of engaging more learners with the Virtual Campus and to contribute to the expansion and development of content.

Curriculum design is still in progress across all sites and will be an ongoing activity. There has been no reduction in the overall OLASS budget for 2012-13 so, although the focus on employability has been emphasised, there should still be capacity to continue the funding of appropriate arts provision. Under the local commissioning principles that now underpin OLASS, prison governors have a decisive role in determining the learning offer in their establishments.

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Railways: Fatalities

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many fatal accidents were recorded on United Kingdom railway tracks in (1) 2000, (2) 2005, (3) 2009, (4) 2010, and (5) 2011.[HL2626]

Earl Attlee: The information requested is listed below:

YearNo of Fatalities

2000

295

2005

273

2009

285

2010

284

2011

279

Railways: Franchises

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the “Stock-take of Travel Time Variability” research paper cost; why it was published on 24 September 2012; what caused the delay in publication from the report date of 2 November 2010; what actions have been taken as a result of the report; and whether the report was used in the assessment of bids for the west coast main line franchise.[HL2491]

Earl Attlee: The Stock-take of Travel Time Variability research paper cost £11,384.60 to produce (including VAT). The report was published as soon as it was feasible to do so. The report adds to the Department for Transport's evidence base on reliability. No specific action follows its publication, but it will inform any future consideration of reliability analysis. The report was not used in the assessment of bids for the west coast main line franchise.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what decision was made in the original awarding of the West Coast main line franchise to First Group regarding the future of moderation of competition, particularly in the Birmingham area, as is currently in place for Virgin.[HL2492]

Earl Attlee: Moderation of competition ceased with the expiry of the original west coast trains track access agreement on 31 March 31 2012. The present InterCity west coast track access agreement, which lasts until 2022, has no moderation of competition provision. Indeed, there is now no moderation of competition clause in any track access agreement.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government who else will be appointed to join the study into rail passenger franchising chaired by Richard Brown; what are the

23 Oct 2012 : Column WA57

terms of reference of the study; and how will other industry bodies be able to submit comments to the study.[HL2572]

Earl Attlee: The Secretary of State for Transport wrote to Richard Brown on 15 October asking him to lead an independent review of the rail franchising programme and setting the terms of reference for the review. A copy of this letter was placed in the Libraries of House.

It will be for Richard Brown himself to determine who will join him on the review team and whether or how to draw upon the advice or comments of industry bodies.

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will return the west coast main line contract to the previous franchiser owner in the interim before the franchise is retendered, or invite new applications for tender, including Virgin Trains.[HL2605]

Earl Attlee: I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made by the Secretary of State on 15 October 2012 (Official Report, col. 46-47) that the Department for Transport is commencing negotiations with Virgin Rail Group with a view to it remaining as operator of passenger services for the west coast main line for a short period.

Asked by Lord Bowness

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Earl Attlee on 10 October (Official Report, col. 1022), whether train operations and track infrastructure may be conducted by the same institution; and, if so, whether that institution would be required to account separately for each activity.[HL2628]

Earl Attlee: EU legislation requires separation of accounts between track and train. It also requires that certain charging and capacity allocation functions are kept separate from train operation functions. The implications for railway structures are complex, and I am therefore writing to my noble friend Lady O’Cathain to explain in greater detail and will place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.

Railways: Wales

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have had discussions about the closure of railway lines and railway stations in Wales.[HL2623]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport has not had any discussions about the closure of any railway lines or stations in Wales. This would be a matter for the Welsh Government.

23 Oct 2012 : Column WA58

Railways: West Coast Franchise

Questions

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions took place, and what correspondence was exchanged, between Ministers and civil servants in the Department of Transport on the issue of technical flaws in the west coast main line franchise bid process between 15 August and 4 September; and whether the review by Sam Laidlaw will consider that material.[HL2535]

Earl Attlee: I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made on 15 October and the terms of reference for the Laidlaw inquiry into the InterCity West Coast franchise competition, which have been laid in the Library of the House. Ministers were only made aware of the full extent and impact of the technical flaws in the InterCity West Coast franchising process on Tuesday 2 October and announced the cancellation of the franchising process on 3 October.

Asked by Lord Rosser

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the inquiry into the operation of the recent west coast main line franchising process will include an investigation of the role of the Department of Transport's Departmental Board, including the non-executive directors, in considering, examining and overseeing the adequacy and appropriateness of the governance arrangements for the franchising process used for the west coast main line.[HL2549]

Earl Attlee: I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made on 15 October and the terms of reference for the Laidlaw inquiry into the InterCity West Coast franchise competition, which have been laid in the Library of the House.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the delayed award of the franchise for the west coast main line, what service pattern they expect to operate in the December 2013 timetable.[HL2571]

Earl Attlee: The details of the short Intercity West Coast franchise agreement, which is the agreement that will be in place by December 2013, are yet to be finalised. It is anticipated that the December 2013 service pattern will be the same as the pattern that will apply from December 2012.

Research: Finch Group

Questions

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the financial impact on United Kingdom universities of Research Council UK’s implementation of the Finch Group proposals on open access to research publications.[HL2439]

23 Oct 2012 : Column WA59

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the distribution of the costs of implementing the Finch Group proposals.[HL2440]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to the implementation of a national licensing agreement in the United Kingdom with the major global research publishers as an alternative to the Finch Group proposals. [HL2441]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Marland): A financial impact analysis of the Finch Group's recommendations was included in the Finch Group's report. Included (at annex E to the report) is a financial analysis, by Cambridge Economic Policy Associates, of the impact of the group's preferred form of open access (OA), namely Gold OA which entails the payment of an article processing charge (APC) by the university/researcher to the publisher/learned society. BIS also undertook its own internal independent “Economic Analysis of Alternative Options for the UK Science and Research System” which informed the Government's consideration of the Finch Report and the Government's stated policy preference for Gold OA.

An assessment of the distribution of the costs of implementing the Finch Group proposals has been made by Research Councils UK. RCUK's analysis is designed to ensure that the distribution of the block funding to be allocated by RCUK to UK universities (and other UK research institutions) to pay the APCs that will be incurred when complying with the research councils' preference for Gold OA, is commensurate with a research institution's/university's level of research activity. The details of their implementation policy will be announced in the coming weeks by the research councils. However, to pump prime the creation of publication funds at universities, the Government made £10 million available through RCUK in September 2012.

The option for introducing a national licensing agreement was considered by the Finch Group (a sub-group specifically looked at this option), but it was concluded that such a licence is unlikely to be practicable and that the costs would probably be high.

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The Government accepted this conclusion. A public library open access initiative with national coverage did form part of the Finch Group's report. Publishers are now working to develop a walk-in public library initiative as part of the balanced package of recommendations agreed within the Finch Group. Subject to RCUK's final arrangements for the provision of publication funds at research institutions, a nationwide public library OA initiative could become available during 2013.

Roads: Speed Limits

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to increase speed limits on United Kingdom motorways.[HL2503]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport is currently working on an impact assessment of the 80 mph speed limit on sections of the motorway network with variable speed limits and considering the criteria for where and under what conditions the 80 mph speed limit might be applied. We are aiming to consult on this later in the year alongside the broader work on a roads strategy.

Schools: Academies

Question

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the allegations of exam cheating at Kingsdale Foundation School in Dulwich, whether they will consider giving Ofsted the power to inspect academy chains.[HL2460]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The allegations of exam cheating at Kingsdale Foundation School are a matter for the awarding bodies to investigate rather than Ofsted. There are no current plans to give Ofsted a specific power to inspect academy chains and, indeed, Kingsdale Foundation School is not part of an academy chain.