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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 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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 3 July (WA 133),
23 Oct 2012 : Column WA46
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.
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]
|Grade/Title||May 2010||October 2012|
|Grade/Title||Promotion to post in an Other Government Department.||Level Transfer to Other Government Department||Retirement||Voluntary Exit||Total||%age of staff in post at May 2010|
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".
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.
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.
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]
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.
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 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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 provide 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.
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
23 Oct 2012 : Column WA52
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 Group||No. of fundable students (000s)|
|Age Group||Fee loan borrowers (000s)|
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Year||No of Fatalities|
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
23 Oct 2012 : Column WA60
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.
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.
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