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Written Answers

Monday 5 November 2012

Adoption

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Tankerness on 22 October (WA 1–2), how and when the intervention by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland in the adoption case of X & Others v Austria (No. 19010/07) at the European Court of Human Rights came to their attention; what form the United Kingdom intervention took; in which cases the United Kingdom has intervened since 1 January 2011; and whether they will place copies of their letters to the court in the Library of the House.[HL2953]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Tankerness on 22 October (WA 1-2) the Government first became aware of the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland's intervention in the case on 15 August when they were alerted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. As Lord Wallace's reply made clear, the Government have not sought to intervene separately in the case but wrote to the court to make clear that the intervention does not represent the views of the UK Government. I have arranged for copies of the letter to the court to be placed in the Library of the House.

The UK Government have intervened in one case that was not brought against the United Kingdom since 1 January 2011. This was Scoppola v Italy in which the UK submitted written observations in September 2011 and the Attorney-General made an oral intervention at the Grand Chamber hearing that took place in November 2011.

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 18 October (WA 475–6), what was the size of the sample survey and where it was conducted within Helmand.[HL2813]

Baroness Northover: The survey covered approximately 20% of vocational and technical skills training graduates in Lashkar Gah, Garmsir, Nad-e Ali, Nawa, Gereskh and Marjah districts.

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Apprenticeships

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many apprentice schemes are currently in place in Merseyside. [HL2924]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Table 1 shows the number of apprenticeship programme starts in Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral Local Education Authorities in the 2011-12 academic year (August 2011 to July 2012). We publish apprenticeship starts at region, local education authority and parliamentary constituency levels of geography, therefore data for Merseyside is not presented.

Provisional data for the 2011-12 academic year provide an early view of performance and will change as further data returns are received from further education colleges and providers. They should not be directly compared with final year data from previous years. Figures for 2011-12 will be finalised in January 2013.

Table 1: Apprenticeship Programme Starts in Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St. Helens and Wirral Local Education Authorities, 2011-12 (Provisional)
2011-12 (Provisional)

Knowsley

2,860

Liverpool

7,140

Sefton

3,750

St. Helens

2,760

Wirral

4,680

Source: Individualised Learner Record

Notes

1. All figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Geographic breakdowns are based upon the home postcode of the learner.

3. Figures are based on the geographic boundaries as of May 2010.

Information on the number of apprenticeship starts by geography is published in a supplementary table to a quarterly Statistical First Release (SFR). The latest SFR was published on 11 October 2012:

http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_currenthttp://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_supplementary_tables/Apprenticeship_sfr_supplementary_tables/.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any decision has been made on enabling the continuation of the Commando Helicopter Force via the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme.[HL2858]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Merlin Mk 3/3A is being transferred to the Royal Navy's Commando

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Helicopter Force to replace the Sea King Mk 4. Activity to enable the transfer has already begun. The department is exploring options to optimise the aircraft for ships and address obsolescence issues on the Merlin Mk 3/3A as part of the assessment phase for the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme.

Armed Forces: Medals

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will reconsider the decision to forbid the acceptance of the Ushakov medal by survivors of the Arctic Convoys.[HL2758]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): In May and July of this year the Russian embassy asked for permission for the Ushakov Medal to be accepted by Arctic Convoy veterans. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) considered the request on a case by case basis under the current British rules on the acceptance of foreign awards but permission for the medal to be accepted could not be given. The information supplied by the Russian embassy did not show that the individuals named by the Russian embassy had given specific service to Russia within the past five years, as required by the current rules. The FCO did inform the Russian embassy that should they wish to nominate recipients who had given recent service to Russia those cases could be reconsidered.

The noble Lord may wish to note that Sir John Holmes, in his Military Medals Review published on 17 July 2012, made a number of recommendations, including that there should be a fresh look at the policy on the acceptance of medals from another country. The Government have invited Sir John to undertake further work to implement his recommendations. This has begun, with an initial focus on looking at the case for medals for a number of past campaigns, including the Arctic Convoys.

Banking: Asset Protection Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the total value of premium and other amounts paid and expected to be paid by United Kingdom banks to HM Treasury under the Asset Protection Scheme established in 2009; and what is the total value of claims expected to be paid.[HL2678]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): UK banks, specifically the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), paid a total of £5 billion in fees for the protection afforded by the Asset Protection Scheme. In addition, due to the restructuring of the fee structure for RBS's

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participation in the scheme in 2012, an extra £1.7million in interest payments was received by HM Treasury.

No payouts were or will be paid under the scheme, as both RBS and LBG have now left.

Banking: Fund Managers

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 15 October (WA 438), what is their response to the European Commission’s assessment of the contribution of fund managers to the cause and extent of the financial crisis.[HL2759]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): There is no compelling indication that fund managers played a central role in causing the financial crisis.

Banking: Money Laundering

Question

Asked by Lord Browne of Ladyton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure that all United Kingdom banks are fully implementing anti-money laundering regulations.[HL2692]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have an anti-money laundering (AML) regime, which is one of the highest rated AML regimes by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which sets global standards.

The UK recently conducted a review of the implementation of the Money Laundering Regulations which concluded they were broadly effective and proportionate in practice. Amendments came into force in October 2012 which further strengthen supervision and enforcement of the regulations. As well as the regulations, the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) has wide ranging money laundering offences. If there is knowledge or suspicion of money laundering, there is an obligation to report those suspicions by submitting a suspicious activity report (SAR).

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is responsible for ensuring that UK banks are complying with the regulations. It takes a robust approach to supervising banks, including taking enforcement action. For example, it has issued fines to institutions for serious and systemic failings. In April 2013, changes to the FSA's structure will see its responsibilities shared between the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulatory Authority. The FCA will continue this intensive and intrusive approach to financial regulation that the FSA has developed.

The Government will play an active role in shaping the forthcoming revisions to the EU Money Laundering Directive, which will seek to implement the new FATF standards, to ensure that they are effective and risk-based.

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Banking: Quantitative Easing

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered the case for cancelling some or all of the government debt acquired for value from the market under quantitative easing.[HL2731]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The conduct of monetary policy is for the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England.

British Citizenship

Question

Asked by Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what procedures exist to permit an individual who has renounced British citizenship to reclaim that citizenship. [HL2817]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Section 13 of the British Nationality Act 1981 makes provision for an individual to resume British citizenship following renunciation of British citizenship. Individuals can make an application to the UK Border Agency using form RS1.

Business Rates

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will require local authorities to fund any repayment required as a result of appeals about business rates levied before the introduction of localised business rates.[HL2368]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): In accordance with standard accounting conventions, local authorities will have to make a provision against future losses on appeal, and would have to recognise those losses when setting their budgets for 2013-14. As part of their technical consultation on business rates retention, the Government have therefore sought views on proposed changes to the national gross yield of business rates. The gross yield is the sum that will be used to assess the starting position for each local authority in the business rates retention scheme. It has proposed that this yield should be reduced to reflect the losses incurred by local authorities as a result of successful appeals against rates bills. This would mean that all local authorities will be allowed to retain more business rates than would otherwise have been the case, providing them with additional funding to manage the impact of appeals. The Government are considering responses to that consultation.

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China

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of China in respect of the imprisoned human rights lawyer, Ni Yulan.[HL2734]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): On 27 July, an appeal hearing reduced the sentence of Ni Yulan by two months. However, the court upheld her convictions for picking quarrels and provoking trouble. Diplomats from the UK and a number of other countries were refused access to the trial. On 18 September the EU delegation in Beijing raised concerns with the Chinese Government about the refusal to allow EU observers to attend the appeal hearing for Ni.

My honourable friend the then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne) wrote to the Chinese ambassador in London on 17 April following Ni's sentencing to two years eight months in prison. He expressed concerns at the apparent lack of evidence in Ni's trial and at reports that her health continues to decline in detention. He urged the authorities to release her on bail and to ensure she has access to all appropriate medical treatment. He urged the relevant authorities to investigate allegations of torture and mistreatment in detention. Officials at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in January this year also raised Ni's case with the Chinese authorities.

Ni's case is a priority for the UK and other like-minded countries. We will continue to seek opportunities to raise Ni's case with the Chinese Government.

Civil Service: Secondments

Questions

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many senior civil servants at the Department of Energy and Climate Change are on secondment to companies or organisations in the United Kingdom; how many were seconded to such companies or organisations in 2011; and to which companies and organisations they are or were seconded.[HL3014]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Department of Energy and Climate Change currently has five senior civil servants on secondment to companies or organisations in the United Kingdom. These companies include Technip, Statkraft, Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Research Council UK in India.

During 2011 the Department of Energy and Climate Change had one senior civil servant on secondment to British Gas.

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Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many senior civil servants at the Department for Communities and Local Government are on secondment to companies or organisations in the United Kingdom; how many were seconded to such companies or organisations in 2011; and to which companies and organisations they are or were seconded.[HL3016]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Department for Communities and Local Government currently has two senior civil servants on secondment. One is seconded to the Housing and Communities Agency and another to Surrey Fire Brigade.

During 2011 there were five senior civil servants on secondment. These staff were seconded to Westminster City Council, Cambridge City Council, St Albans District Council, Newcastle City Council and Yorkshire Forward.

Council Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assumptions they made in respect of (1) the number of claims for council tax benefit, and (2) the anticipated cost thereof, when announcing a 10% cut in the government grant for council tax benefit for 2013–14; and what are their present estimates.[HL2365]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): From April 2013, our reforms will localise council tax support and give councils stronger incentives to support local firms, cut fraud, promote local enterprise and get people back into work. Spending on council tax benefit doubled under the last administration and welfare reform is vital to tackle the budget deficit we have inherited.

The decision to make a 10% reduction in local council tax support was made at the Spending Review. Given the changes in forecast expenditure the amount of the 10% saving may change reflecting the changes in the cost of providing council tax benefit. The final savings figure will be based on revised forecasts of spending in 2013-14, taking into account numbers of council tax benefit claimants, expenditure and changes in policy affecting future claimant levels. This will be used to determine the amount to be transferred to local govt. These forecasts will be published as usual as part of the Autumn Statement.

Cybercrime

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what treaties or international obligations the United Kingdom is committed, either alone or with European nations, in respect of cyber security and cybercrime.[HL2783]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The UK is strongly committed to working with international partners on cyber crime. We support the Budapest Convention, which the UK has signed and ratified, as the best existing route for international co-operation. This is the first international treaty which seeks to address computer and internet crimes. It was drawn up by the Council of Europe with observer states including Canada, Japan and China. It has since been ratified by the USA.

At an EU level, the UK has opted in to the EU directive on attacks against information systems which supporting co-operation across member states to tackle cybercrime and ensures that all member states have adequate legislation in this area. The directive builds on the 2005 framework decision on attacks on information systems, which the UK also supported.

The UK has also agreed to the EU Council Decision 2000/375/JHA to combat child pornography on the internet, and opted in to the 2009 sexual exploitation directive which deals in part with online child abuse images.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Questions

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the capacity and success of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in fulfilling its main task of protecting civilians. [HL2763]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): While the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (MONUSCO) main task is the protection of civilians, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)'s Government bears primary responsibility for ensuring security in its territory and protecting its civilians. In a UN Security Council Presidential Statement (PRST) of 19 October, we joined with other Security Council members in expressing our full support for MONUSCO, commending the active measures it has taken to implement its mandate in eastern DRC, especially protecting civilians. It has re-deployed to position itself between M23 and the towns the group threatens, and has taken a robust approach to deterring the M23's advance. The PRST encourages the continuation of these efforts.

The PRST also requests the Secretary General to present to the Security Council a special report on possible options, and their implications, for reinforcing the ability of MONUSCO to implement its mandate, including to protect civilians.

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the statement by the Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, at the United Nations mini-summit on

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the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on 27 September on the need for a political solution to be implemented in that country, what steps they will take to develop such a solution. [HL2764]

Baroness Warsi: The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has been leading the search for a regional solution to the current conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). While we believe that this region-led process should continue, we are concerned about the lack of progress, in particular on its political track. We are therefore working with key partners such as the EU and UN to find a way to support a political process which will resolve the current crisis and break the cycle of violence in eastern DRC.

Asked by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo about good governance, security sector reform, and national and international re-engagement with the Stabilisation and Reconstruction Plan for eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (STAREC) and the International Security and Stabilisation Support Strategy (ISSSS).[HL2765]

Baroness Warsi: We regularly make representations to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on these issues. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr Simmonds), did so when he met the DRC Foreign Minister Tshibanda in New York on 26 September and during his intervention at the high-level meeting on eastern DRC at UN General Assembly on 27 September. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) also raised them when he met the DRC Foreign Minister on 4 September in London. Our embassy in Kinshasa also regularly discusses them with the DRC Government.

Cross-government Conflict Prevention Pool funds are used in the DRC to contribute to security sector reform and stabilisation activities, working alongside other bilateral and multilateral partners. We are also working closely with the UN Peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), in reviewing the International Security and Stabilisation Support Strategy to the DRC Government's Stabilisation and Reconstruction Plan.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent discussions they have had with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo about prosecuting Bosco Ntaganda and Laurent Nkunda for their alleged roles in human rights abuses. [HL2800]

Baroness Warsi: Our embassy in Kinshasa regularly raises concerns about human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the

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DRC Government. The UK has long called for the implementation of the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant for Bosco Ntaganda. There were indications in early 2012 that the DRC Government was considering arresting him, but in April he mutinied from the DRC Army and launched a new rebel movement—the M23. The DRC's focus has therefore been on tackling the M23 as a whole and regaining control of part of eastern DRC where M23 and Ntaganda are located. There are therefore currently limitations on action the DRC Government can take to arrest Ntaganda. Laurent Nkunda is living in Rwanda. The DRC Government are therefore limited in the action they can take against him.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent representations they have made to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo about the release from prison of Pastor Kutino Fernando. [HL2801]

Baroness Warsi: Our embassy in Kinshasa made representations to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) about Pastor Fernando's case most recently in January 2012, alongside other prisoner cases of concern. We will make further representations to the DRC Ministry of Justice.

The promotion and protection of human rights is at the heart of UK foreign policy. We are determined to pursue every opportunity to promote human rights and political and economic freedom around the world. The DRC is listed as one of the countries of concern in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2011 Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report.

We also publish quarterly reports on these countries of concern. The latest report on the DRC can be found at: http://fcohrdreport.readandcomment.com/human-rights-in-countries-of-concern/democratic-republic-of-congo/quarterly-updates-democratic-republic-of-congo/.

Elections: Police and Crime Commissioners

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 15 October (WA 440–41), what advice they give to members of the Armed Forces in battle zones to enable them to access information online.[HL2651]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There is extensive Wi-fi provision for Armed Forces personnel serving in Afghanistan. Wi-fi is provided in all locations where there are more than 100 personnel. Additionally, around 150 stand-alone computers providing an internet connection for personal use are distributed across smaller bases.

The Government are also committed to ensuring that Armed Forces personnel can participate fully in elections. An internal publication issued earlier this

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year to all Armed Forces personnel set out the arrangements for electoral registration and voting for members of the Armed Forces. A more recent internal publication has been issued which advises Armed Forces personnel specifically about the police and crime commissioner elections on 15 November 2012 and a copy of this will be placed in the Library of the House.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what limits there are on expenditure by or on behalf of candidates in the elections for police and crime commissioners; and whether there are restrictions on funding for this purpose from outside the United Kingdom. [HL2761]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The limits on candidate expenditure and the rules for their regulation are set out in the Police and Crime Commissioners Elections Order 2012, available at the Printed Paper Office, or here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1917/article/35/made.

Donations made to support candidates' campaigns for PCC elections must be made by permissible donors, which means:

an individual registered in a electoral register in the UK;a company registered under the Companies Act 2006, and incorporated within the United Kingdom or another member state, which carries on business in the United Kingdom;a registered party, other than a Gibraltar party whose entry in the register includes a statement that it intends to contest one or more elections to the European Parliament in the combined region;a trade union entered in the list kept under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 or the Industrial Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1992;a building society (within the meaning of the Building Societies Act 1986);a limited liability partnership registered under the Limited Liability Partnerships Act 2000 which carries on business in the United Kingdom;a friendly society registered under the Friendly Societies Act 1974 or a society registered (or deemed to be registered) under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 or the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969; andany unincorporated association of two or more persons which does not fall within any of the preceding paragraphs but which carries on business or other activities wholly or mainly in the United Kingdom and whose main office is there.

Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Triesman on 12 November 2007 (WA 1–2), Lord Drayson on

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19 May 2009 (

WA 290

) and Baroness Wilcox on 3 October 2011 (

WA 114–5

), in the light of the end of Professor Mary Herbert's research study, whether the efficiency of somatic cell nuclear transfer in human oocytes has been improved; in what publications any improvements were reported; how soon after the project was originally due to end any advances were publicly reported; and how many human eggs were required for the research.[HL2745]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Two papers describing findings from the Medical Research Council (MRC) grant to the University of Newcastle, Improving the Efficiency of Human Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), have been published. Pronuclear transfer in human embryos to prevent transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease: Craven et al, 2010, Nature: 465(7294), and, Egg Sharing for Research: A Successful Outcome for Patients and Researchers: Choudhary et al, 2012, Cell Stem Cell: Volume 10, Issue 3.

The work was also presented at a workshop on SCNT convened in San Francisco by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the MRC in June 2010. The workshop report was published on the MRC website and discussions are described in the paper Finding the niche for human somatic cell nuclear transfer: Grieshammer et al 2011, Nat. Biotech: 29, The report and the paper outline advances in approaches for SCNT and the Newcastle team's SCNT research together with their closely related work into the use of nuclear transfer to prevent transmission of mitochondrial DNA disease. A journal article detailing further findings on the therapeutic potential and efficiency of SCNT has been submitted for publication.

The number of eggs donated to the project is provided in Choudhary et al (2012).

Energy: Carbon Capture and Storage

Question

Asked by Lord Ezra

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will use European Union funding for the development of carbon capture and storage.[HL2883]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Government are already using European Union funding for the development of carbon capture and storage.

Several projects have received funding under the EU's Framework Programme 7; one project received funding under the European Energy Programme for Recovery; and three projects remain in contention for funding from the new entrants reserve (NER) 300 competition.

Energy: Nuclear Power

Questions

Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for the future of the Wylfa nuclear site; and what discussions they have had on the sale of the site with interested parties since September 2012. [HL2860]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Government very much hope that the new owner of Horizon Nuclear Power swiftly develops the Wylfa site, as it is one of the sites identified within the National Planning Statement as suitable for new nuclear power. Government have had no formal discussions with parties interested in purchasing Horizon since September 2012—this is a commercial sale and Government viewed it as inappropriate to have discussions with companies while their bids were being formally assessed by the vendors of Horizon.

Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what meetings the Department of Energy and Climate Change has had with the owners of Horizon Nuclear and the bidders for the company since August 2012. [HL2861]

Baroness Verma: DECC has regular meetings with RWE and EON across a range of policy issues. DECC has also set out the Government’s energy policy, nuclear legislative framework, and ambitions for new nuclear within a low carbon energy mix to a number of companies and parties who were interested in purchasing Horizon Nuclear Power. This was a commercial sales process and it would not be appropriate for the Government to disclose details of the companies involved.

Energy: Nuclear Reactors

Question

Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which nuclear reactors are currently being assessed as part of the generic design assessment process; and whether they expect any other reactors to enter the assessment process in 2012 or 2013.[HL2859]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Regulators issued interim design acceptances at the end of 2011 for the two reactors (the AREVA EPR and the Westinghouse AP1000) undertaking GDA. These interim acceptances included a number of GDA issues that required resolution prior to final design acceptances being given.

The regulators have subsequently continued work with EDF/AREVA closing out issues on the EPR design. Westinghouse announced a pause for work on the AP1000 until they had further progress in securing a UK customer.

Further to the recently announced purchase of Horizon, we understand that Hitachi are likely to be approaching Government and regulators to seek a generic design assessment for the ABWR design to be deployed in the UK market.

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Energy: Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to abolish or suspend VAT on energy, or to review subsidies paid to green energy generators; and whether they have made an assessment of the impact of such measures on energy price stability. [HL2785]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Under EU VAT law, we are unable to extend the scope of the zero-rate provisions, nor are we able to introduce new ones even on a temporary basis.

The recent renewables obligation (RO) banding review looked at the subsidy levels paid to renewables. The banding review reduced support levels where costs have fallen. For instance, support for onshore wind has been reduced by 10% to bring forward the most cost-effective developments.

Diversifying our energy mix will reduce our dependence on volatile imported energy. We are reforming the market to bring on investment in home grown renewables and nuclear. This will not only help cut emissions but protect consumers from the price spikes we have recently seen. Energy and climate change policies will reduce the UK's sensitivity to spikes in global oil, gas and coal prices by 30% in 2020 and 60% in 2050.

EU: Scotland

Question

Asked by Lord McAvoy

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what requests they received from the Scottish Government for advice about the position of Scotland within the European Union in the event of Scottish independence; and whether they provided such advice.[HL2869]

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Government have received no requests from the Scottish Government for advice on the position of Scotland in relation to the European Union in the event of Scottish independence.

Gambia

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of the Gambia about the reported disappearance of the journalist, Ebrima B. Manneh.[HL2737]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK has led international efforts to ensure that the disappearance of Ebrima Manneh is thoroughly investigated. We have lobbied

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the Gambian Government on numerous occasions and at different levels to open investigations, both bilateral and through the EU. In April 2011, the Gambians finally agreed to request international support to facilitate investigations and, in November 2011, confirmed that they would write to the UN Secretary-General asking him to commission an inquiry.

The issue is now a matter for the Government of the Gambia and the offices of the UN Secretary-General. We stand ready to assist the Government of the Gambia wherever possible in carrying out this important inquiry.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of the extremist Salafi militants in Gaza.[HL2681]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We have not conducted a detailed assessment of the number of extremist Salafi militants in Gaza.

Ghana

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to boost trade between Ghana and Britain.[HL2926]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI) teams in London and Accra offer potential exporters a range of services and support, including market research, the identification of local agents and distributors, participation in trade missions, and product launches. In recent months, UKTI has given particular support to companies in the oil and gas, education and construction sectors. During a recent visit to Accra, FCO Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, hosted a breakfast meeting with UK investors and visited a hospital being built by a UK company, which won the contract with High Commission support.

Between 2010 and 2011 bilateral trade between the UK and Ghana increased by 32%, to nearly £1.2 billion.

Health: Human Papillomavirus Vaccination

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will review their policy on the use of the human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV) in the light of the recent research by Tomljenovic and Shaw about the safety of HPV.[HL2911]

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA172

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any assessment of the data from trials conducted by Merck on the evidence of vasculitis in those using the human papillomavirus vaccination; and, if so, what conclusions they have drawn. [HL2912]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of recent research by Tomljenovic and Shaw about the safety of the human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV), they will issue guidance to doctors and immunisation nurses about the recording of adverse medical events following the administration of the HPV and the conduct of studies on those receiving the vaccination.[HL2913]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what criteria they use to assess whether a vaccine should be withdrawn from use; and whether they plan to test the human papillomavirus vaccination against those criteria.[HL2914]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of surrogate marker-based extrapolations in demonstrating the efficacy of the human papillomavirus vaccination against cervical cancer.[HL2915]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with independent expert advice from the Commission on Human Medicines is responsible for ensuring that the overall balance of risks and benefits of medicines is positive at the time of licensing, and that this remains positive after licensing.

The safety and efficacy of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil was evaluated in seven clinical trials (six placebo-controlled trials) prior to licensing with over 10,000 people vaccinated with Gardasil. These trials did not identify an association between Gardasil administration and vasculitis. Tens of millions of people have since been vaccinated with Gardasil HPV vaccine worldwide since licensing and there is no evidence to suggest that Gardasil can cause vasculitis, as suggested by Tomljenovic and Shaw.

The MHRA actively seeks ways to encourage the reporting of suspected adverse reactions by healthcare professionals, carers and patients to all medicines and vaccines through the Yellow Card Scheme. The research by Tomljenovic and Shaw provides no basis to issue any additional specific guidance on reporting suspected side effects to HPV vaccine.

Continuous safety review includes evaluation of suspected adverse reactions collected through the yellow card scheme, as well as the results from any new studies, both published and unpublished. If there is sufficient evidence that a vaccine or medicine is causally associated with a new risk based on the available data, such risks would be characterised and weighed against the known or anticipated benefits. If possible, action would be taken to minimise the risk, which could include restricting use of a product, and communicate the information to healthcare providers, patients and carers. In exceptional cases, where the risks of a product are considered to outweigh its benefits and actions to minimise the risk are not possible, consideration would be given to withdrawing it from use.

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA173

The use of surrogate clinical end points for efficacy of HPV vaccines for prevention of cervical and other HPV related cancers is widely accepted within the scientific community and no robust evidence exists to undermine that concept.

Based on currently available evidence, the known risks of HPV vaccine are greatly outweighed by the expected benefits in preventing deaths from cervical cancer and other morbidities associated with vaccine strains of HPV. The department therefore has no plans to review policy on human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation or issue advice to the National Health Service in the light of recent research by Tomljenovic and Shaw as it does not materially add to accepted evidence and views about the safety of HPV vaccine.

As with all vaccines and medicines, the MHRA will continue to closely monitor all emerging evidence on the safety of HPV vaccines and action will be taken to minimise risk if supported by the data.

The department will monitor carefully the impact of HPV vaccination, as the early cohorts of vaccinated women will soon be subject to cervical screening surveillance.

Health: Sexual and Reproductive Health

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will seek to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning, within the Millennium Development Goal 2015 Development Framework.[HL2722]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will prioritise sexual and reproductive health and rights and family planning in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.[HL2724]

Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development (DfID) is committed to putting women and girls at the heart of the UK's development assistance. The recent Family Planning summit organised by DfID in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners is testament to how deeply committed DfID is. The summit emphasised freedom of access, without coercion or discrimination, to a range of contraceptives for married and unmarried women, marginalised communities and adolescents.

The UK Government are keen to ensure that girls and women are at the forefront of building strong economies, open societies and inclusive political systems. A post 2015 framework must seek to build on the strengths, and address the weaknesses of millennium development goal 3 to promote greater gender equality, so that women's empowerment and rights are protected and strengthened.

Healthcare: Costs

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 22 March (WA 193–4), under which charging regulations the

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA174

29,677 non-European Economic Area workers in receipt of visas issued in 2011 under the tier 2-intra-company transfer (ICT) route are exempt from hospital costs while they and their employers are exempt from paying national insurance contributions; whether they have plans to synchronise the arrangement to require payment of either contributions or costs; and whether ICT workers are regarded as habitually resident for the purposes of child benefit payment. [HL2803]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Entitlement to free National Health Service hospital treatment is based on ordinary residence in the United Kingdom or exemption from charges under the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2011, as amended, not the payment of UK taxes or national insurance contributions.

People who are working here for a UK based employer are exempt from charges for NHS hospital treatment by virtue of Regulation 8(2)(a) of these regulations. It is not sufficient to be in receipt of a particular visa to be considered exempt from charges. Similar regulations are enacted across the devolved Administrations. Those working here under the ICT route are generally not entitled to child benefit whilst they remain subject to immigration control. Not all of those who come to the UK under this route are exempt from requirements to pay national insurance contributions. The exemptions only apply where the person is exempt under a bi-lateral social security agreement, or meets the various statutory conditions in Regulation 145(2) Social Security Contributions Regulations 2001. Amongst the conditions for the 52 week national insurance contributions exemption are requirements for the employment to be with a foreign employer and the person to be not ordinarily resident.

The Department of Health is reviewing its policy on charges to overseas visitors for NHS care, including the qualifying residency criteria for free treatment and the full range of current criteria that exempt particular services or visitors from charges. No decisions have yet been made. Furthermore, the Government are reviewing migrant access to publicly funded services and benefits through a cross-departmental Ministerial Cabinet Committee chaired by the Minister for Immigration.

Higher Education: Foreign Students

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have on the number of defaults on the payment of fees to United Kingdom universities made by foreign students.[HL2841]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Information on the number of non-EU international students who default on the payment of fees to their university is not available, as such students are not eligible for student support from the Government; any such defaults are,

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA175

therefore, a matter between the University and the international students involved. European Union and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, Swiss nationals and certain children of Turkish nationals may apply to the Government for a loan to cover the cost of tuition fees but, in such cases, payments are made directly to the Higher Education Institution on their behalf. There is therefore little or no risk of these students defaulting on the payment of their tuition fees to universities.

Homosexual Men and Women

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what statutory obligations are laid upon them to assess the treatment of homosexual men and women in the developing world.[HL2865]

Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development (DfID) has no statutory obligation to assess the treatment of homosexual men and women in the developing world.

However, when providing direct financial aid to Governments, DfID assesses their commitment to four partnership principles. This includes respect for human rights and other (related) international obligations through which all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are entitled to enjoy the freedoms and protections provided for by international human rights law.

When changes are made to programmes due to a breach of the partnership principles, the department has a statutory obligation to state these changes in its annual report.

House of Lords: Inter-parliamentary Organisations and Conferences

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask the Chairman of Committees to which inter-parliamentary organisations or conferences, including those organised by European Union institutions but excluding the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the House of Lords sends delegations or members; on what basis those members are selected and for how long; how those members report back to the House on their activities; and what discussions are held with Members of the House to make them aware of such opportunities. [HL2879]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): Members of the House of Lords serve on the UK delegations to the parliamentary assemblies of the Council of Europe, NATO, OSCE, and the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly. Nominations to these delegations are made by the Whips Offices.

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA176

Opportunities occasionally arise for Members of the House to represent the House at conferences or meetings abroad. These invitations are usually extended to the Lord Speaker who decides whether or not it is appropriate for the House to be represented. Recent examples include events sponsored by the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians against Corruption (GOPAC) and the Council of Europe. In these cases, Members are approached by the Overseas Office or, more usually, the Whips Offices at the request of the Overseas Office.

Occasionally individual Members may be asked by outside bodies—like the Westminster Foundation for Democracy—to participate in their overseas programmes.

There is no formal mechanism whereby Members in such delegations provide feedback to the House, though their attendance will no doubt inform their contribution to the work of the House.

Conferences on aspects of EU policy are convened by the Parliament of the member state holding the council presidency or by the European Parliament. Invitations are usually sent by the organisers to the speakers of national parliaments, requesting them to send chairmen of relevant committees. Accordingly, these conferences are normally attended by the chairman, or another member or members, of the relevant EU Sub-Committee or the Select Committee, in line with the terms of reference set for the Committee by the House. Members attending these conferences build contacts with counterpart committees in other parliaments and report back to their committees in order to inform their scrutiny and inquiry work.

Opportunities to serve the House in an international capacity—other than in the context of the work of the EU Select Committee—are set out in a leaflet prepared by the Overseas Office and made available at the Members’ Open Day events. The next such Open Day will take place on Wednesday 7 November from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm in the Queen’s Robing Room.

House of Lords: Youth Events

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

To ask the Chairman of Committees how many youth events took place in the House of Lords in (1) 2011, and (2) to date in 2012.[HL2923]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): Four events took place in 2011 and two events have taken place to date in 2012.

Housing Benefit

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of, and how many, (1) 16 to 17 year-olds, (2) 18 to 21 year-olds, and (3) 22 to 24 year-olds, claiming housing benefit in England are (a) single with children,

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA177

(b) part of a couple with children, (c) single without children, and (d) part of a couple without children. [HL2536]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the average weekly payment of housing benefit in England to (1) 16 to 17 year-olds, (2) 18 to 21 year-olds, and (3) 22 to 24 year-olds.[HL2537]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The requested information is in the table below.

Family type and average weekly amounts for Housing Benefit claimants in England by age, May 2012
AllSingle, no child dependentsSingle with child dependentsCouple, no child dependentsCouple with child dependentsAverage weekly amounts (£)

Total for England

4,295,670

2,333,090

1,026,560

423,800

512,220

92.49

100%

54.3%

23.9%

9.9%

11.9%

Age 16-17

6,420

5,260

1,070

50

40

122.84

100%

81.9%

16.7%

0.8%

0.6%

Age 18-21

131,750

69,020

50,280

4,930

7,520

96.32

100%

52.4%

38.2%

3.7%

5.7%

Age 22-24

188,390

65,400

94,730

7,180

21,090

94.96

100%

34.7%

50.3%

3.8%

11.2%

Source: Single Housing Benefit Extract (SHBE)

Notes:

1 . The figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Totals may not sum due to rounding.

2. Average awards are shown as pounds per week and rounded to the nearest penny.

3. SHBE is a monthly electronic scan of claimant level data direct from local authority computer systems. It replaces quarterly aggregate clerical returns. The data are available monthly from November 2008 and May 2012 is the latest available.

4. Age groups are based on the age on the count date (second Thursday in the month), of either:

(a) the recipient if they are single, or

(b) the elder of the recipient or partner if claiming as a couple

5. Recipients are as at second Thursday of the month.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they consider that the obligation imposed by Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights to secure to everyone within its jurisdiction the Convention rights should be reflected by legislation passed in the United Kingdom.[HL2874]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they accept the obligation imposed by Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights to abide by final judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.[HL2875]

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA178

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there have been any occasions since the United Kingdom ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1951 on which Her Majesty’s Government have refused to abide by a final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.[HL2876]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to remain party to the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL2877]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The convention forms part of the international law obligations of the United Kingdom, and it is for Parliament to have regard to these obligations when legislating.

Under Article 46 of the convention, the high contracting parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the court in any case to which they are parties. This undertaking, then contained in Article 52 of the convention, was given by the United Kingdom upon its original ratification of the convention on 8 March 1951, and forms part of the international law obligations of the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom has never refused to abide by a final judgment of the Strasbourg Court.

The Government have no plans to denounce the European Convention on Human Rights.

Human Trafficking

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many women and girls have been prevented from being trafficked as a result of the Department for International Development’s Human Trafficking in South Asia Programme; and what percentage were Dalits or Adivasis.[HL2884]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what priority was given to protecting Dalits and Adivasis in the pilot phase of the Department for International Development’s Human Trafficking in South Asia Programme.[HL2885]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures will be put in place to ensure that priority is given to preventing the human trafficking of Dalits and Adivasis in the implementation phase of the Department for International Development’s Human Trafficking in South Asia Programme.[HL2886]

Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development (DfID) is currently designing a programme to reduce the trafficking of women and girls in South Asia. Evidence from the pilot phase suggests that those most at risk of trafficking are from the poorest and most excluded groups, including Dalits and Adivasis.

DfID is strongly committed to reaching the poorest and most marginalised groups through our programmes in South Asia, and this includes Dalits and Adivasis. In India, for example, we are helping 240,000 dalit and tribal girls to attend and complete secondary school.

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Once the programme has been designed and approved, the expected results will be publicly available on the DfID website.

Indonesia

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Indonesia in respect of the imprisoned activist, Johan Teterissa.[HL2736]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The British Government have not made any direct representations to the Government of Indonesia in respect of Johan Teterissa. The EU has a regular formal dialogue with Indonesia on human rights, and at the last meeting on 2 May in Jakarta, the EU specifically raised the rights of prisoners. In 2011 the EU passed a list of individual cases of concern to the Indonesian Government, which included Johan Teterissa.

We regularly discuss the human rights situation, including the right to peaceful political protest with the Indonesian Government. The Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Member for Whitney (Mr Cameron), discussed how to ensure respect for human rights across Indonesia with the Indonesian president during the recent state visit of 31 October to 2 November.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Burnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the financial limits to legal aid in respect of barristers and solicitors available to members of the Armed Forces charged with murder.[HL2664]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Armed Forces personnel are eligible for financial assistance towards the cost of legal advice and representation through the Armed Forces Legal Aid Scheme (AFLAS). AFLAS is based upon the same principles as the civilian criminal legal aid system in England and Wales, and is designed to mirror it whilst making necessary adjustments for service life. As part of AFLAS, the provision for legal aid for Armed Forces personnel to fund solicitors, barristers including Queen's Counsel, and experts where applicable operates along the same lines as that payable in the Crown Court. The representation required is determined by the needs of the individual and the case and is not restricted by the individual's ability to pay.

All applications to the AFLAS are subject to a means test and those whose income, and where applicable capital, exceed the relevant thresholds may be required to contribute towards their legally aided costs where they are convicted or unsuccessful in appeal. Where an individual has contributed up to the maximum of their means tested contribution level public funds will make up any shortfall.

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA180

Libya

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 4 July (WA 178), why they did not answer the part of the question asking for an assessment of the involvement of terrorist groups in the attacks on British war cemeteries in Benghazi; and whether they know which group carried out the attacks. [HL2790]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The perpetrators of the acts of vandalism on British War Graves are yet to be identified. The Libyan authorities have committed to investigating these attacks; we await details of their progress. However, without firm evidence, it would be wrong to speculate as to the involvement of terrorist groups

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have established who carried out the attack in Benghazi in June on the convoy carrying the United Kingdom Ambassador to Libya, Sir Dominic Asquith. [HL2791]

Baroness Warsi: The Libyan authorities are yet to establish who was responsible for the attack in June on the convoy carrying Sir Dominic Asquith. We have made clear to them the importance of carrying out a full investigation and we have offered our full co-operation while emphasising the need for a transparent legal process. The UK continues to raise the importance of addressing security challenges with the Libyan authorities.

Licensing Hours

Question

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will consider a review of late-night licensing procedures to give local residents greater influence over licensing decisions, in view of the proliferation of such establishments.[HL2090]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government's Alcohol Strategy, and measures introduced through the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, give individuals and local communities more power to input into local licensing decisions. This includes removing the vicinity test on making licensing representations, meaning anyone, no matter where they live, can input into decisions to grant or revoke licences. Licensing authorities now have powers to make early morning restriction orders (EMROs) which will also enable local areas to restrict alcohol sales late at night if they are causing problems.

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA181

Maternal Mortality

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to help reduce levels of maternal mortality by 2015, in the light of millennium development goal 5.[HL2756]

Baroness Northover: The UK strongly supports the implementation of the United Nations Secretary-General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, Every Woman Every Child (EWEC). Launched in September 2010, this global movement galvanizes action to reduce maternal deaths and improve child mortality with the aim of saving the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. As part of the Global Strategy, the UK has committed to: save the lives of at least 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth and 250,000 newborn babies by 2015; and support at least 2 million safe deliveries, ensuring long lasting improvements in quality maternity services, particularly for the poorest 40%.

In addition, the recent London summit on family planning generated commitments to provide voluntary family planning information, services and supplies to an additional 120 million women and girls. In September, a new partnership which includes the UK Government announced it is halving the cost of a long-acting, reversible method of contraception, making it available to 27 million women in the poorest countries.

National Policing Improvement Agency

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the estimated transitional costs of transferring the functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency to other bodies, including the Home Office and the National Crime Agency.[HL2804]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The transitional costs of transferring the functions of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) to other bodies, including the Home Office and the National Crime Agency, will be met from within existing NPIA budgets.

NHS: Personnel

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what powers the Secretary of State for Health and the Department for Health have in appointing personnel monitoring, administering and running hospitals, trusts and other such bodies; when and where those powers have been used in the past 10 years; and under what guidelines, criteria and security checks appointed personnel have been selected.[HL2777]

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA182

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Secretary of State for Health or the Department for Health have appointed anyone to monitor, administer or run a hospital, trust or other such body in the past 10 years; if so, to where those appointments were made; and under what guidelines, criteria and security checks those appointed personnel were appointed.[HL2778]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the executive powers of the Secretary of State for Health and the Department of Health to intervene in hospitals, trusts and other such bodies; and when and where these powers have been used in the past 10 years.[HL2779]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government through what guidelines, criteria and security checks personnel chosen by the Secretary of State for Health under the NHS Unsustainable Provider Regime are selected.[HL2781]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Secretary of State has various powers to appoint the chairs and non-executive members of National Health Service trusts, primary care trusts, (PCTs) strategic health authorities (SHA) and special health authorities (SpHA), and to suspend and terminate their tenure of office in prescribed circumstances. He also has powers to appoint separate bodies of trustees to NHS bodies. Such powers of appointment are exercised regularly.

The Secretary of State has far fewer powers relating to the appointment of staff or executive members to NHS bodies. The Secretary of State has powers under Section 66 of the National Health Service Act 2006 to intervene in a failing NHS trust, SpHA, SHA or PCT. Amendments made by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to Section 66 (when they are in force) will restrict this power of intervention to NHS trusts and SpHA (given that SHAs and PCTs are to be abolished).

Section 66 of the National Health Service Act 2006 enables the Secretary of State to make an intervention order in prescribed circumstances where the body is failing, to suspend or remove executive and non executive directors from office, and appoint replacements. Executive members of the board appointed using these powers would be employees of the health body. The Secretary of State used the powers in Section 66 in November 2011 to intervene at Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust.

Section 65B of the National Health Service Act 2006 enables the Secretary of State to appoint a trust special administrator (TSA) to take over the running of an unsustainable NHS trust for a defined period, at which point the trust's board members are suspended from office, and to make an independent recommendation to him about the future of that organisation. The first ever appointment of a TSA to an NHS organisation was made for South London Healthcare NHS Trust in July. This is the only time the Secretary of State has used these powers. There are also powers under the National Health Service Act 2006 to appoint TSAs to unsustainable PCTs and NHS foundation trusts. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 provides for the repeal of the powers relating to PCTs. These powers have never been used.

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA183

The Secretary of State's decision to trigger the Regime for Unsustainable NHS Providers for NHS trusts is based on a written recommendation from the NHS chief executive, including who should be appointed as TSA. From 1 October 2012, this responsibility transferred to the NHS Trust Development Authority.

The demands of the role of a TSA will vary depending on the exact circumstances of each case. In deciding who to appoint as a TSA, the Secretary of State will consider carefully the role of an administrator as set out in statutory guidance.

Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Northover on 24 September (WA 273–4) and on 18 October (WA 482), what was the meaning of the word “elections” in brackets in the earlier Answer, if the Department for International Development's spending on democracy is not solely on elections.[HL2814]

Baroness Northover: DfID's projects are coded in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) guidance. There is no code for “democracy”. As the closest code available to the department is “elections”, many of the department's projects that are categorised as “elections” cover broader aspects of democracy support, such as support for the media and legislatures. Some expenditure which could be classed as supporting “democracy” is also likely to fall under other code headings, such as “support for civil society” and “public financial management”.

Asked by Lord Teverson

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the total financial assistance given by the United Kingdom to sub-Saharan Africa over the last three years was distributed between different United Kingdom Government departments.[HL2825]

Baroness Northover: Details of the United Kingdom's aid expenditure in sub-Saharan African countries, including a breakdown by government departments, are published in “Statistics on International Development” (SID) which is available in the House Library or online at: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-us/How-we-measure-progress/Aid-Statistics/

Table 14.1 of SID shows DfID and total other government department aid expenditure in Africa. It can be found at: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Documents/publications1/sid2011/Table%2014.1%20-%20Africa_P1.xls

The online table A6 shows a breakdown of other government departments aid expenditure by recipient country and is available at: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-us/How-we-measure-progress/Aid-Statistics/Statistics-on-International-Development-2011/SID-2011-Additional-tables/

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Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people in receipt of state pensions are subject to income tax; at which rates; what percentage of those in receipt of a state pension this represents; and how many of those overall have an income above the personal allowance yet are not currently taxed on their pensions.[HL2792]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested is shown in the table below.

Individuals in receipt of state pension 2012-13
ThousandsPercentage of all those in receipt of state pension

In receipt of state pension1

12,730

100%

Individuals where no income tax is due2

7,090

55.7%

Individuals where income tax is due

5,640

44.3%

Of which basic rate

5,240

41.1%

Of which higher rate

378

3.0%

Of which additional rate

26

0.2%

(1) The Department of Work and Pensions Budget 2012 forecast: http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/budget_2012_summ.xls

(2) The difference between caseload estimates (1) and those where tax is due.

(3) HM Revenue and Customs projections of individuals liable for income tax and in receipt of state pension using 2009-10 Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) data projected using economic assumption consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility's March 2012 Economic and fiscal outlook.

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 2 July (WA 128), which non-public sector organisations, companies or charities have been permitted to enrol their staff as members of the Health Service Superannuation Scheme; under what criteria; and how many individuals are involved in each organisation so permitted.[HL2793]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Practitioners including National Health Service medical, dental and ophthalmic practitioners, assistants and some locum practitioners are able to be members of the NHS Pension Scheme. The NHS Pensions Regulations also allow general practitioner (GP) practice staff to access the NHS Pension Scheme.

Access to the NHS Pension Scheme is available to certain non-NHS organisations under directions approved by the Secretary of State. These are made under Section 7 of the Superannuation Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1967.

These powers are used currently to cover the following situations:

NHS staff who are transferred to non-public sector not-for-profit organisations under the Transfer of

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA185

Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE) are eligible to continue to access the NHS Pension Scheme;hospices and medical schools are able to access the NHS Pension Scheme in relation to mainly professional staff who worked in the NHS in the year before taking up post; anda small number of not-for-profit organisations are able to access the NHS Pension Scheme via a direction for a time limited period, usually five years, in relation to staff moving from the NHS to take up a post providing support to the NHS.

A document listing all the non-public sector organisations, companies and charities who are permitted to enrol their staff into the NHS Pension Scheme via a direction has been placed in the Library.

As at 31 March 2012 the following non-public sector organisations had access to the NHS Pension Scheme. This information is shown the following table.

TypeNumber of employersCriteria for access

Direction Employers including

424

Section 7 Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions)) Act 1967

GP Practice

8,052

NHS Pension Scheme Regulations (part A2 1995 Section—part 2.A.1 2008 Section)

Alternative Provider of Medical Services contractor

298

NHS Pension Scheme Regulations (part A2 1995 Section—part 2.A.1 2008 Section)

Out of Hours Provider

44

NHS Pension Scheme Regulations (part A2 & A3 1995 Section—part 2.A.1 & 2.A.15 2008 Section)

Source: Information provided by NHS Pensions

Data provided by the Government Actuary's Department as at 31 March 2010 showed that 36,000 GPs and ophthalmic medical practitioners, 91,000 GP practice staff and 21,000 dental practitioners were members of the NHS Pension Scheme. In the same period 28,000 members had access to the scheme through a direction.

More recent information on the number of individuals who had access to the NHS Pension Scheme could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. However, latest estimates from the department suggest that over 50,000 staff access the NHS Pension Scheme via a direction. This is due to an increase in the amount NHS staff taking up posts in not for profit organisations delivering NHS services.

Planning

Question

Asked by The Earl of Shrewsbury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what criteria ministers apply when deciding whether to call in local authority planning decisions on the conversion of registered historical battlefields to other uses. [HL2719]

5 Nov 2012 : Column WA186

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement that I made on 29 October (Official Report, col. 45WS) which sets out the coalition Government's policy on the call in of planning applications by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Proposals to convert registered battlefields to other uses could fall to be considered under one or more of the examples listed but, in any case, these are only examples and are not intended to fetter the Secretary of State's discretion if he considers it appropriate to call in a planning application for other reasons.

Police: College of Policing

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what the funding arrangements for the new College of Policing will be, including those for pensions, (1) until the end of the financial year 2014–15, and (2) thereafter. [HL2806]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The College of Policing will be funded via grant and income generation from within the existing National Policing Improvement Agency envelope until 2014-15 and the college will provide transferees with membership of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme in accordance with their current scheme membership. From 2015-16 onwards funding will be agreed as part of the next spending review.

Police: Police ICT Company

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what funding arrangements will be put in place for the Police ICT Company.[HL2807]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Police forces and other customers will be responsible for commissioning and funding work undertaken by the Police ICT Company.

Police: Sick Leave

Question

Asked by Baroness Doocey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 18 October (Official Report, col. 1564), whether they have plans as part of their reform of provisions for long-term sickness in the police force to make a distinction for officers injured in the line of duty.[HL2836]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Tom Winsor's review of police remuneration and conditions of service included recommendations as to the treatment of officers placed on restricted duty on medical grounds. The Government

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accepted the review's recommendations as the basis for negotiation and consultation in the police negotiating machinery. That process is continuing.

Currently, when an officer is assessed as permanently disabled for the ordinary duties of a police officer, he or she may be required to retire on grounds of ill health. In this case an officer can draw an immediate pension for life, often with enhanced pension benefits. The Government have said that provision along these lines will form part of any reformed pension scheme from 2015. On top of any ill-health pension, the Police Injury Benefit Scheme for officers injured in the line of duty will continue to provide a gratuity of up to 50% cent of salary and a top-up to any police pension that gives a guaranteed total income of up to 85% of salary.

Police: Tasers

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether police officers are required to undergo eyesight tests before being issued with taser guns.[HL2840]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): All police officers issued with Taser have to undergo and pass the same eyesight tests as authorised firearms officers. These eyesight tests are repeated annually as part of comprehensive refresher training.

Population Growth

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will promote the issue of population growth within the Millennium Development Goal 2015 Development Framework.[HL2723]

Baroness Northover: The processes to agree a new development agenda after 2015 are underway and the UK Government are playing an active role in setting the agenda. The high-level panel, co-chaired by the Prime Minister, will certainly want to address women's empowerment, family planning and other investments in support of women and girls which could contribute to slowing population growth.

Poverty

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to help achieve the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty, especially amongst rural populations, by 2015, in the light of millennium development goal 1.[HL2757]

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Baroness Northover: Between 2011-15 the UK will reach 20 million children under the age of five with nutrition programmes; help more than 6 million of the world's poorest people to escape extreme poverty; and ensure another 4 million people have enough food throughout the year.

The UK Government support global efforts to address hunger and undernutrition. They are working through international processes such as the G8, G20 and the Scaling Up Nutrition movement to build political will and take practical action particularly focused on improving nutrition for pregnant women and children in the first 1,000 days of life. This is the period in which good nutrition has the longest lasting impact on a child's health and physical development. The UK also supports the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the 10-year initiative by G8, African Governments and partners to lift 50 million people out of poverty through agriculture-sector-led growth.

Remploy

Question

Asked by Baroness Turner of Camden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have negotiated with the trade unions representing Remploy employees facing redundancy; and, if so, with what result.[HL2810]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Remploy has complied with its collective consultation obligations under TUL(C)RA s188 and formal consultation took place between March 2012 and June 2012. The collective consultation process covered consideration of ways of mitigating the consequences of redundancy dismissals, including redundancy payments and the comprehensive personal package of support which would be made available to any Remploy employee who is, in the event, made redundant.

The commercial process, and any redundancies made, are a matter for the Remploy Board. The redundancy terms on offer to employees at risk of redundancy are those contained within Remploy's collective agreement, and were subject to consultation between Remploy and employee representatives. The details were conveyed to employees during the, individual consultation process undertaken by Remploy.

Scrap Metal

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure that all businesses dealing in the buying and selling of scrap metal are aware of new legislation regarding cash sales.[HL2808]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Guidance on the new offence of purchasing scrap metal for cash has been added to the Home Office website. Officials have worked closely with the British Metal Recycling

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Association to ensure that their members are provided with information about the new legislation via posters, leaflets and workshops. We are also working with the British Transport Police to issue neighbourhood policing teams with leaflets detailing the new legislation which they will issue to scrap metal dealers. Information on the new legislation is also being provided in the metal recycling trade press over the coming weeks.

UN: Commission on the Status of Women

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of why the 56th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women was unable to agree final conclusions; and what steps they are taking to ensure that the Commission reaches agreement in 2013.[HL2753]

Baroness Northover: The Government were disappointed that the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) failed to adopt agreed conclusions at its 56th session due to disagreements on language around gender equality, reproductive health rights, and traditional practices, such as female genital cutting and child marriage. The UK Government have made great strides to put girls and women at the heart of international development. The Department for International Development's (DfID) Strategic Vision for Girls and Women sets out the ambitious results we will deliver for the poorest girls and women. DfID is prioritising support to: get girls through secondary education; get economic assets directly to girls and women; delay first pregnancy; and prevent violence against girls and women.

In November, the Government are hosting a meeting of like minded countries to help prepare for the 2013 session of the CSW. The meeting will lay the groundwork for better co-ordination between officials and non-government organisations at the CSW and other international conferences. The primary aim of the meeting is to strengthen alliances and build consensus on a broad range of women's rights issues.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking, and intend to take, to incorporate the requirements of the 56th UN Commission on the Status of Women Resolution on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Natural Disasters into their international development policy and programmes of relief after natural disasters. [HL2754]

Baroness Northover: Ensuring women and girls are central to UK international development and humanitarian policy is a top priority for the Government and they fully support the requirements set out in the Resolution on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Natural Disasters as agreed at the 56th UN Commission on the Status of Women.

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The Government's humanitarian policy commits them to ensure that in all of their disaster relief programmes provision is given to meet the needs of vulnerable groups, including women and girls. The Government also prioritise the needs of women and children exposed to the risk of violence through their work and advocacy with international players such as the United Nations, Red Cross Movement and non- governmental organisations, as well as with national Governments.

We continue to ensure that the UK's own protection programmes in crisis situations are effective. All UK humanitarian action is based on need, and need alone. Assessing, and responding to, the needs of vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, is a requirement for every UK humanitarian response.

United Arab Emirates

Questions

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of the United Arab Emirates about the arrests of political opponents of that Government.[HL2733]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We raise these issues with the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a regular basis, in the context of a strong and frank relationship. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) discussed these issues during his most recent visit for the UK-United Arab Emirates (UAE) Taskforce on 17 September, as did Sir Kim Darroch (National Security Adviser) during his visit to the UAE on 12 September. Both sought and received assurances that those arrested are treated in accordance with UAE law and are subject to due legal process.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of the United Arab Emirates concerning arrests of activists this year.[HL2760]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We raise these issues with the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a regular basis, in the context of a strong and frank relationship. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire, (Alistair Burt), discussed these issues during his most recent visit for the UK-UAE Taskforce on 17 September, as did Sir Kim Darroch (National Security Adviser) in his visit to the UAE on 12 September. Both sought and received assurances that those arrested are treated in accordance with UAE law and are subject to due legal process.

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Visas

Questions

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether members of religious orders who are unpaid members of a religious community are exempt from the resident labour market test; and whether they will include further details about that status on the UK Border Agency tier 2 (Ministers of Religion) web page. [HL2762]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Under tier 2 and tier 5 of the points-based system, there is no requirement for a sponsor to conduct a resident labour market test before bringing a person to the UK who will live within, and as a member of, a religious community, for example a community of nuns or monks.

The UK Border Agency tier 2 (Minister of Religion) web page which outlines basic information for persons coming to the UK will be updated to make this clear. Full guidance for tier 2 and tier 5 sponsors is already available in the policy document on the UK Border Agency website, which sets out all of the circumstances in which a resident labour market test is, or is not, required.

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 24 September (WA 202) explaining that they do not record centrally the numbers of visa refusals for foreign nationals with criminal convictions neither spent nor exhausted under the law in their home nation, or under English law, how ministers are able to judge whether their policy to deny admission to undesirable persons is being properly implemented.[HL2843]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Entry clearance officers consider decisions to refuse or grant a visa on a case- by-case basis and take into account a range of factors including criminal records from both the UK and overseas.

There are different areas of the Immigration Rules that might be applicable to refusing admission to an undesirable person including:

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paragraph 320 (2)—the person is subject to a deportation order;paragraph 320 (6)—the person is personally excluded by the Secretary of State;paragraph 320 (18)—the person has a conviction in the UK or overseas resulting in a custodial sentence of 12 months or more (or it could have resulted in such a sentence had it been committed in the UK); and paragraph 320 (19)—the person's character, conduct or associations makes it undesirable to grant them entry.

The latter two of the list are discretionary refusals. Where there are strong compassionate reasons, entry may be granted. The exact nature of all visa refusals is not recorded centrally, furthermore entry clearance officers (ECOs) in considering all applications have the right skills, training and support to help them identify when a person is and might be liable to refusal and make the correct decisions.

Zimbabwe

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Zimbabwe in respect of the treatment of the women’s movement of Zimbabwe.[HL2735]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The protection and promotion of the rights of women is a priority for the British Government. In Zimbabwe, we maintain a close relationship with women's rights groups and through the Department for International Development-funded Gender Support Programme, the Government supported 11 women's groups working on areas such as: decision- making and political leadership, economic empowerment, domestic violence, and disability.

We have made clear to the Government of Zimbabwe our concerns over their human rights abuses, which includes the targeting of women's rights activists. Working bilaterally and with EU member states, we regularly call for an end to all such abuses and for the restoration of internationally accepted human rights standards in Zimbabwe.