8 Nov 2012 : Column WA219

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Written Answers

Thursday 8 November 2012

Agriculture: Schmallenberg Virus

Question

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the system of reporting incidents of Schmallenberg disease in cattle and sheep by (1) farmers to vets, (2) vets to the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), and (3) the VLA to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is recorded and resourced. [HL3065]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is not a notifiable disease, so there is no statutory requirement for farmers or vets to report suspected SBV disease incidents to government authorities. However, Defra through AHVLA has encouraged vets to report incidents of suspected SBV disease to the local AHVLA laboratory. In regions where SBV has not been identified previously, laboratory testing is conducted free of charge. These incidents are recorded as suspect SBV cases on AHVLA's database Farmfile. The positive results from this database are collated and information is provided to Defra and published on AHVLA's website. Resourcing is through AHVLA scanning surveillance projects for new and re-emerging threats in cattle and small ruminants which are funded by Defra.

Armed Forces: Medals

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why British survivors of the Arctic convoys have been told not to accept the Medal of Ushakov; what account they took of the decision of the Governments of the United States, Canada and Australia to allow the medal to be presented; and how many survivors they estimate to be involved.[HL2619]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): In May and July, the Russian embassy in London wrote to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) asking for permission to award the Medal of Ushakov and included names of 800 veterans to whom they had written offering the medal. The information provided on each case was considered carefully but none met the requirements on the acceptance of foreign awards. The current British rules are clear that there must be evidence of specific service to the country seeking to make the award within the past five years and in none of the cases was there such evidence. However, the FCO told the Russian embassy that if they wished to nominate recipients who had given recent service to Russia those cases could be reconsidered.

8 Nov 2012 : Column WA220

Each Government applies their own rules on honours and medals for their citizens. Therefore, the FCO did not take account of the decisions of the Governments of the United States, Canada and Australia in reaching its own decision.

The noble Lord may wish to note that Sir John Holmes, in his Military Medals Review published on 17 July, 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 British 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.

There are no centrally kept figures of surviving World War II veterans whose service included the Arctic convoys. The Russian embassy provided the names of 800 veterans. However, it was clear from the letters passed to us by the Russian embassy that some of those they named had passed away.

Bank of England

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Bank of England's computer systems would enable the payment of negative interest rates on balances held with the Bank of England by banks.[HL3024]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): There are no system impediments that would prevent the Bank of England from applying negative interest rates to balances held by banks.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Governor of the Bank of England in Cardiff on 24 October that United Kingdom banks require a further significant writing down of asset values and recapitalisation; and whether they will launch an independent investigation into the auditing of banks and the competence of bank audit committees. [HL2867]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the price to book value at which the shares of United Kingdom banks trade on the stock market as an indicator of capital adequacy and asset quality.[HL3126]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Memorandum of Understanding between HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) sets out a framework for co-operation between the three authorities in the field of financial stability.

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The bank's responsibilities include maintaining the stability of the monetary and financial systems. Financial stability will be achieved through the Financial Policy Committee which will be an independent body responsible for macroprudential supervision. The FSA is also an independent body and is responsible for microprudential supervision.

Assessments of asset valuation and price-to-book ratios of individual firms would, therefore, fall within the competence of these authorities. The Treasury is responsible for the overall institutional structure of financial regulation and the legislation which governs it and has no operational responsibility for the activities of the FSA and the bank.

Regarding the role of auditors in the crisis, the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee concluded that:

“[they had] received very little evidence that auditors failed to fulfil their duties as currently stipulated. The fact that some banks failed soon after receiving unqualified audits does not necessarily mean that these audits were deficient”.

China

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of China about the Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in protests since March 2011; and what has been the response.[HL2799]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The British Government have consistently raised concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet with the Chinese Government, in particular the large number of self-immolations that have occurred in Tibetan areas since March 2011.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) set out our concern for the situation on 20 June (Official Report, col. 862).

Tibet was discussed at the last round of the UK-China human rights dialogue in January this year, and officials continue to raise their concerns with the Chinese embassy in London and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing. We remain in frequent contact with the relevant authorities regarding access to these areas.

We also work closely with like-minded countries to raise our concerns about the self-immolations. The UK raised Tibet, focussing on the rights of Tibetans to assemble peacefully, during the 20 June session of the UN Human Rights Council. Through the EU we expressed concern about reports of human rights violations in China, including in Tibet at the UN Human Rights Council on 17 September.

The Chinese Government remain resolute on their position concerning these issues. We will continue to raise this issue with the Chinese Government and to press for a meaningful resolution to the grievances that underlie these distressing events.

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Civil Service: Secondments

Questions

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many senior civil servants at the Department for Transport 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.[HL3017]

Earl Attlee: The department currently has five senior civil servants on secondment to organisations in the United Kingdom, four in HS2 Ltd and one seconded to a local authority.

There were four senior civil servants on secondment in 2011, of which three were seconded to HS2 Ltd and one was seconded to a local authority.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many senior civil servants at the Home Office 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.[HL3019]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Seven senior civil servants are currently on secondment from the Home Office to companies or organisations in the United Kingdom. During 2011, 11 senior civil servants were seconded to companies and organisations.

A list of the companies and organisations is shown in the following table.

Organisation

Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Centre (CEOP)

Leicester County Council

Leonard Cheshire Disability

Local Government Association

London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG)

Mayors Office for Policing and Crime

The Metropolitan Police Service

National Employment Savings Trust (NEST)

The Royal Household

Secure Solutions

Social Finance

Sussex Police

Vital Regeneration

Wateraid

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many senior civil servants at the Department of Health are on secondment to companies or organisations in the United Kingdom; how many were seconded

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to such companies or organisations in 2011; and to which companies and organisations they are or were seconded.[HL3036]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department currently has 11 members of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) seconded to companies or organisations in the United Kingdom. Of these 11, 10 were on secondment to the same companies or organisations in 2011.

The companies/organisations were:

KMPT Psychological Services;Connecting for Health;Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians;National Health Service Commissioning Board;NHS Calderdale primary care trust (PCT);South Central strategic health authority (SHA); and Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council.

In 2011 the department had 30 members of the SCS on secondment to other companies/organisations in the UK. Six of these secondments began in the calendar year 2011, while others started before 2011, but were still in force, at some stage, during 2011.

The companies/organisations were:

Yorkshire and Humberside Public Health Observatory;

Connecting for Health;

Brighton and Sussex University NHS Foundation Trust;

NHS North West;

Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust;

NHS South East Coast;

London SHA;

NHS Institute (University of Warwick);

University of Oxford;

RADAR;

HM Treasury;

NHS Yorkshire and the Humber;

Consumer Focus;

Turning Point;

Health Protection Agency;

Prime Minister's Delivery Unit;

Bath and North East Somerset PCT;

NHS Derby City;

PricewaterhouseCoopers;

NHS Calderdale PCT;

Human Tissue Authority;

South Central SHA;

Macmillan Cancer Support;

National Voices; and

NHS Commissioning Board.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many senior civil servants at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are on secondment to companies

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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.[HL3038]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: There are three senior civil servants on secondment from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to organisations in the UK. The bodies concerned are the Gambling Commission, the Football Licensing Authority and the Leveson inquiry.

During 2011 there were four senior civil servants on secondment from DCMS. The organisations were English Partnerships, the Gambling Commission, the Football Licensing Authority and the Leveson inquiry.

Climate Change

Questions

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 30 October (WA 114–5) stating that global temperatures have risen less than 1 degree celsius since 1880, on what basis they assert that there has been a long-term upward trend in average global temperatures. [HL3048]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 30 October (WA 114–5) stating that there has been no significant global warming since around 1998, and deeming that period as a shorter timescale, how many years of non-warming they consider would constitute a long-term trend.[HL3049]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 30 October (WA 114–5), whether they consider a rise in global temperature of 0.8 degrees celsius since 1880 to be significant.[HL3050]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The assessment that there has been a long-term upward trend in global average near-surface temperatures since the late 19th century is based upon three global temperature records, compiled from observations, by groups in the US and UK. The rate of global temperature rise on different timescales is summarised in table 1 below. The underlying trend over the period from 1880 to 2011 is 0.062 celsius per decade, giving a total change of 0.81 celsius. Such a rate of change has been judged by major scientific assessments to be large and rapid when compared with temperature changes on millennial timescales.

Over this period some parts of the world have warmed at a much faster rate. The land surface average temperature has risen by about 1.1°C and Arctic temperatures have increased by almost twice the global average rate. The consequences of this warming are already seen across the globe. For example, northern hemisphere sea-ice and snow cover have decreased markedly, most glaciers have retreated and the risks of certain extreme weather events occurring have increased.

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Statistical (linear trend) analysis of the HadCRUT4 global near surface temperature dataset compiled by the Met Office and Climatic Research Unit (table 1) shows that the temperature rise since about 1880 is statistically significant.

Time periodLinear trend (°C/decade)Absolute change in temperature described by linear trend (°C)

1880-2011

0.062±0.009

0.81±0.13

1900-2011

0.074±0.011

0.82±0.13

1950-2011

0.106±0.025

0.66±0.16

1970-2011

0.166 ± 0.038

0.70 ± 0.16

Table 1. Trends fitted to monthly global temperature anomalies for HadCRUT4, with uncertainties describing 95% confidence interval bounds for the combination of measurement, sampling and bias uncertainty and uncertainty in the linear trend fitted to the data. The statistical model used allows for persistence in departures using an autoregressive process (ie that an individual value is not independent of the previous one).

Statistical analyses and modelling of the global temperature record have shown that, because of natural variability in the climate system, a steady warming should not be expected to follow the relatively smooth rise in greenhouse gas concentrations. Over periods of a decade or more, large variations from the average trend are evident in the temperature record and so there is no hard and fast rule as to what minimum period would be appropriate for determining a long-term trend.

Council Tax: Imprisonment

Question

Asked by Baroness Afshar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) men, and (2) women, were sentenced to imprisonment for council tax debt in each of (a) 2008, (b) 2009, (c) 2010, and (d) 2011.[HL2936]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My department has been able to calculate the total number of cases where outstanding debt relating specifically to council tax resulted in sentences of imprisonment, although not all cases reported specified the gender of the defendant.

Data has been centrally collected since April 2009 so I have provided data covering the financial years 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.

The table below shows the number of defendants who were sentenced to immediate imprisonment for non-payment of council tax:

PeriodMaleFemaleNot Specified

April 2011-March 2012

68

37

5

April 2010-March 2011

63

35

8

April 2009-March 2010

70

27

11

These data are sourced from the Libra Management Information System (MIS), and do not form part of the national statistics produced by the Ministry of

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Justice, which can be found at: www.justice.gov.uk/publications/statistics.htm As such this data set is not subject to the same levels of quality assurance.

In extracting this data only offences of complaint for council tax committal have been included where the court hearing date occurred within each financial year reported (ie between 1 April-31 March).

It should be noted that there are a few cases where the gender of the defendant has not been specified and these have been shown separately in the table above.

It should also be noted that, although committals to prison are reported as occurring within a particular financial year, the non-payment of council tax itself may relate to a previous financial year or even a period covering more than one financial year.

Cyprus

Questions

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, for each of the past three years, which civil society organisations in Cyprus they have supported through funding or contributions in kind, directly or indirectly; and what is their estimate of the value of their contributions to each recipient.[HL2889]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): In 2011, the British Government provided £5,000 to support Engi, the Causeway Institute and the University of Nicosia. They arranged a series of seminars in October 2011 to bring the experience of the Northern Ireland peace process to Cyprus.

In 2012, the Government have offered £20,000 to support a project aimed at work on conflict resolution by civil society organisations in Cyprus.

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which Ministers or officials have had meetings with civil society organisations in Cyprus over the past three years; and when those meetings took place.[HL2890]

Baroness Warsi: The Minister for Europe, my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury, (Mr Lidington), met with a selection of civil society representatives on 16 May while they were in the UK to take part in panel discussions in the House of Commons and at the London School of Economics entitled “Cyprus—Tired of Talking? Civil Society to Bring Life to a Stagnant Process”.

During the Minister for Europe's visit to Cyprus in June 2011 he met with representatives of the Home for Co-operation.

Officials at our high commission in Cyprus and in London routinely meet with interested parties including civil society organisations.

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Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the role of civil society organisations in Cyprus in negotiations over reunification; and what steps they are taking to encourage their participation.[HL2893]

Baroness Warsi: Civil society could play an important role as a bridge between the leaders of the two communities and the public in the negotiations. As the process is by Cypriots for Cypriots, it is for these leaders to decide if and how they include civil society organisations in the negotiations.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will publish all documents relating to United Kingdom dealings with Archbishop Makarios during the period leading up to the agreement of the Cyprus Treaty of Guarantee in 1960; and if not, why not.[HL2934]

Baroness Warsi: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently releasing files returned from former colonial administrations in line with the published timetable on the FCO website.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks), in his Written Statement to Parliament on 5 May 2011 (Official Report, col. 24WS) announced his intention to release every part of every paper of interest from the colonial administration files subject only to legal exemptions. This includes any material relating to Archbishop Makarios from the Cyprus files.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have reviewed the success of United Nations resolutions and actions relating to Cyprus; and, if so, whether they have sought changes as a result of those reviews. [HL2976]

Baroness Warsi: The UK, in its role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, plays an active role in reviewing the effectiveness and appropriateness of all current operations mandated by the UN Security Council. This includes UN activity in Cyprus.

All UN documents are publicly available at UN mission websites: (http://www.uncyprustalks.org/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=2486&tt=graphic&lang=11) and any assessment made by the UN Security Council will be contained within them.

Cyprus and Northern Cyprus

Question

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Cyprus and to the Turkish authorities in Northern Cyprus about including civil society organisations in negotiations over reunification; and when. [HL2894]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The British Government continue to discuss the settlement negotiations with the leaders of both communities. However as the negotiations are by Cypriots for Cypriots, it would be for the leaders themselves to decide how best to include Cypriot civil society organisations.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are taking steps to prevent rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from selling minerals to companies worldwide and using the profits to buy weapons; and, if so, how.[HL2938]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Working to reduce conflict is a priority for the UK. As part of this, the UK is committed to preventing the illicit trade in minerals, the proceeds of which have helped to perpetuate conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The UK has strongly supported efforts to implement the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas. We also remain committed to the Kimberley process certification scheme which directly tackles the financing of rebel groups through the sale of rough diamonds.

The Department for International Development is working with other donors and the DRC Government through a growth with governance in the mineral sector technical assistance project (ProMines) to put in place a system to certify mines that are not linked to conflict and to tag their products which will enable buyers to verify the source of minerals.

Emily Wilding Davison

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to commemorate the centenary of the death of Emily Wilding Davison at the Epsom Derby. [HL2871]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) does not have any plans to mark the centenary of the death of Emily Wilding Davison in 2013. DCMS has an arm's length relationship with its sponsored museums and galleries, therefore any decision they might take to commemorate this centenary would be a matter for the trustees and executive of each body.

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Equality Act 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what meetings Ministers or officials have had with (1) the Hindu Council and (2) the Hindu Forum of Britain at which the working of the Equality Act 2010, including the desirability of activating Section 9(5)(a), was discussed.[HL2732]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: On 15 March 2011, the then Minister for Women and Equalities, Lynne Featherstone, together with officials from the Government Equalities Office, attended a meeting arranged by Hindu organisations chaired by Lord Dholakia, at which the issue of caste legislation was discussed. At that meeting a number of participants spoke to oppose the bringing into force of Section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010. As this was not a meeting arranged by HMG, no official record of who attended is held by the Government.

Neither Ministers nor officials have had any other meetings with representatives from either the Hindu Council or the Hindu Forum of Britain at which the exercising of Section 9(5) (a) of the Equality Act 2010 has been discussed.

Euro

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in what way the House of Commons exerts control over the commitment of money to support the Euro. [HL2842]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK's exposure to the existing financial assistance packages to euro area member states is through the UK's bilateral loan to Ireland, the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) loans from the EU to Ireland and Portugal and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme loans to Ireland, Portugal and Greece. The Government expect all of these loans to be repaid.

For the UK's bilateral loan to Ireland, parliamentary authorisation was granted through the Loans to Ireland Act 2010 and, as a result, the Treasury prepares regular reports about Irish loans and lays them before the House of Commons.

Second, on EU loans via the EFSM, this facility was established by the Economic and Financial Affairs Council in accordance with Article 122(2) of the EU Treaty. The exceptional circumstances meant that the Scrutiny Committees did not have time to consider the regulation before it was agreed at council. However, the House of Commons' European Scrutiny Committee debated the regulation on 1 February 2011 and concluded in its report:

“... we note and accept the need for the urgent adoption of both measures, even though proper scrutiny was not possible”.

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Subsequent council implementing decisions regarding the EFSM have been subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way.

On the IMF loans to euro area member states, the Government are fully committed to transparency and accountability with regard to their activities at the international financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund. Since July 2009, there have been three parliamentary votes on IMF issues.

Finance: Liquidity Swaps

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they or the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is monitoring the practice of liquidity swaps by pension funds, insurers and other investors; whether they regard such practice as a source of systemic or other risk; and whether they or the FSA have reviewed the competence of those entering into liquidity swaps and the adequacy of related documentation. [HL2829]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government recognise that liquidity swap transactions enable the temporary transfer of liquid assets to firms that need them, while, at the same time, providing lending firms with secured exposures and, potentially, an enhanced yield. The Government see a role for these transactions on a sensible scale, provided the risks are properly identified and managed by both parties.

In response to observing an increasing trend of firms wanting to enter into such transactions, in February 2012, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issued guidance for regulated firms engaging in these activities. This guidance ensures that the FSA is able to scrutinise these transactions more closely, decreasing the effect of transactions that pose unacceptable risks to the FSA's regulatory objectives. In light of evidence that the market for liquidity swaps is growing, it will be important for the regulator to continue monitoring these transactions carefully, including any associated risks, systemic or otherwise.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the recent report by Medical Aid for Palestine and Save the Children, Gaza’s Children: Falling Behind, concerning the impact of the blockade of Gaza on the health of children, whether they will consider funding the production of an independent report on the matter, along similar lines to Children in Military Custody, published in June.[HL2863]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We agree that the report raises important issues about the impact of Israeli restrictions on the population of Gaza, as did the recent UN report, Gaza in 2020.

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In addition to continuing to lobby for the easing of those restrictions, we are supporting a range of programmes for the welfare of Gaza's children including to the Palestinian Authority and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who provide basic services, such as education and health, to the people of Gaza.

We do not currently have plans to fund a report on the issue.

Government Departments: Arrests

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) males, and (2) females, were (a) arrested, and (b) prosecuted, for offences committed on premises occupied by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in each of the past five years for which information is available; and how many were (i) convicted, and (ii) acquitted in each case. [HL3002]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): There have been no cases of persons being arrested or prosecuted for offences committed on core Defra premises in the past five years.

Government Departments: Theft

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many computers (1) owned, and (2) leased, by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its predecessor departments were stolen in each year since 2000; and how many were subsequently recovered.[HL2999]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Property either lost or stolen is recorded as losses. The following table shows computers reported as losses in core Defra by calendar year from 2010 to 31 Oct 2012, together with the number subsequently recovered.

YearComputers recorded as lossesSubsequently recovered

2012 to 31 Oct

9

0

2011

15

2

2010

19

3

Computers are the property of IBM which has provided IT services to core Defra since October 2004. Lost items replaced under the IBM service contract do not have a direct cost to the department.

Information for previous years could be provided only by incurring disproportionate cost.

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Government: Ministerial Responsibilities

Questions

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Minister for Faith and Communities has any responsibilities relating to citizens of no religious faith; and, if so, what are those responsibilities. [HL2774]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Minister for Faith and Communities’ role is to ensure that the needs, perspectives and potential contribution of people of faith are taken into account in the formulation and implementation of public policy. As a member of the Government the Minister's role is to ensure that all who live in our diverse communities are able to contribute to society and this includes people without religious beliefs.

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made, in creating the post of Minister for Faith and Communities, of the constitutional relationship between religion and the state.[HL2776]

Baroness Warsi: Only the Church of England, as the Established Church in England, has a constitutional relationship with the state. However, a great many people in this country self-identify as members of faith groups and have much to contribute to society, as well as legitimate needs and perspectives which Government have a duty to address. It is right that their interests should be represented by a dedicated Minister.

Government: Special Advisers

Question

Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

To ask Her Majesty’s Government who are the special advisers reporting to the Deputy Prime Minister; and what are their responsibilities in each case. [HL2862]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: A list of special advisers in post as of 19 October 2012 is available on the Cabinet Office website at https://update.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/special-adviser-data-releases.

The Code of Conduct for Special Advisers sets out the sorts of work a special adviser may do, a copy of which can be accessed on the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/special-advisers-code-of-conduct.pdf.

Health: Pharmacies

Question

Asked by Lord Smith of Clifton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the recent re-organisation of the National Health Service, where responsibility lies for ensuring adequate performance standards by local pharmacies, including branches of major pharmacies.[HL3013]

8 Nov 2012 : Column WA233

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): From 1 April 2013, the commissioning of pharmaceutical services will be the responsibility of the NHS Commissioning Board (the board). This will include monitoring of the community pharmacy contractual framework and taking forward any performance sanctions that are necessary. It will be up to the board how it performance manages providers.

Horses

Question

Asked by Lord Higgins

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Newby on 24 September (WA 260), whether they will reappraise the risk attached to the import of diseased horses; and whether they will seek agreement with France and the Republic of Ireland that the tripartite agreement should revert to its original form and cover fit high-value horses.[HL3076]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): We constantly monitor the risk of disease incursion into the UK and in light of recent reports and our understanding of horse movements we consider there may be a low risk of certain equine diseases being imported into the United Kingdom through the movement of horses covered by the tri-partite agreement (TPA). It is therefore appropriate that we review the scope and operation of the TPA. Nigel Gibbens (chief veterinary officer) is meeting the chief veterinary officers from France and Ireland on 19 November 2012 to review the current agreements.

International Scientific Community: Governmental Advice

Question

Asked by Lord Browne of Madingley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Italy about the prison sentences passed on seven members of the country’s National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks for providing “falsely reassuring statements”; and what assessment they have made of that prosecution’s impact on the ability and willingness of the international scientific community to provide advice to governments.[HL2855]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The sentences were imposed by an Italian court which is independent of the Italian Government. We understand all seven individuals will appeal against the sentence.

The Government have not made a formal assessment of how this case might affect the ability and willingness of the international scientific community to provide advice to governments but the Minister for Europe, my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), has expressed to the Italian Government our concern about the potential impact of the case.

8 Nov 2012 : Column WA234

Israel

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made representations to the Government of Israel about construction in the E-1 area, and its impact on connections between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[HL2864]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Our officials in Israel regularly raise the issue of construction in the E-1 area with the Israeli authorities, most recently on 24 October.

We are clear that any building in E-1 would be extremely damaging for the prospect of a contiguous Palestinian state within a two-state solution.

Marine Environment: Conservation Zones

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which marine protected areas are expected to be established in (1) 2013, and (2) 2014, and (c) 2015; what size each of those areas is expected to be; and whether each area has been agreed with all relevant stakeholders. [HL2882]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The Government are committed to establishing an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas (MPAs). This network will consist of European marine sites special areas of conservation (SACs) designated under the habitats directive, special protection areas (SPAs) designated under the wild birds directive, sites of special scientific interest, sites designated under the RAMSAR convention and marine conservation zones (MCZs). To date, 364 individual MPAs covering a total area of 31,250 square km have been designated in English inshore and English and Welsh offshore waters.

The last group of SACs to meet the requirements of the habitats directive was submitted to the European Commission last month. There are no plans for designating further marine SACs but the need for further sites will be considered should evidence become available to indicate that more SACs are needed.

Natural England is currently informally consulting interested stakeholders on two proposals for SPAs for birds—an extension to the existing Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs SPA (7472 hectares) and an area of the south Cornwall coast between Falmouth Bay and St Austell Bay (30743 hectares). Formal public consultation on these sites is due to take place in 2013, with possible classification in 2014. Natural England is also working with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to identify further marine SPAs. The boundaries for these sites have not yet been established, but all proposed areas will be subject to public consultation. We aim to have identified suitable sites using the best available evidence by the end of 2015.

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Defra is currently considering the package of advice on possible sites for MCZs, to cover English inshore and English and Welsh offshore waters, including the site recommendations and impact assessment from the Regional MCZ Projects, the Science Advisory Panel advice and formal advice from the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies to identify sites for designation in the first tranche. The public consultation, expected to commence shortly, will indicate which of the sites recommended by the Regional MCZ Projects are proposed for designation in 2013, which are candidates for future tranches and which will not be pursued any further. Stakeholders will be able to review, comment and feed back on the proposed designation decisions before they are finalised.

Prisoners: Voting Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will have regard, in considering ways of abiding by the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights on voting rights for prisoners, to the steps taken by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to comply with the judgments of their courts on the same issue.[HL2888]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are considering carefully the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment on prisoner voting in the case of Scoppola v Italy (No. 3) and its implications for the UK.

We are aware of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Legislative Council's response to the High Court in Hong Kong's ruling on prisoner disenfranchisement.

The Government will respond to the judgments of the ECtHR in due course. The deadline to do so is 23 November.

Railways: Tickets

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they give to rail franchise operators about upgrades of off-peak rail tickets; and whether that guidance covers retrospective charges for outgoing journeys when return journeys only are upgraded.[HL3043]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport has not issued any such guidance to rail franchise operators.

Under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCoC) (Condition 12), if a restriction applies and the ticket a passenger is using is not valid for the train in which he or she is travelling, then the passenger will be liable to pay an excess fare. This will be the difference between the price paid for the ticket held and the price of the lowest priced ticket available for immediate travel that would have entitled the passenger to travel in that train for the journey shown on the ticket.

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In the case of some types of discounted tickets (as indicated in the notices and publications of the train operators) the passenger will be treated as not having a valid ticket.

The NRCoC can be found on the National Rail website via the following weblink: http://www.nationalrail. co.uk/times_fares/nrcc/NRCOC.pdf.

Religious Faith

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the proportion of the population having a religious faith; and on what that assessment is based.[HL2775]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government note that according to the Office for National Statistics' 2009-10 Annual Population Survey, 71.1% of the population of the United Kingdom identified with the Christian religion. Those identifying with other faiths totalled 8.2%, and 20.7% of the population indicated that they had no religious beliefs.

Remembrance Ceremonies

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will include representatives of the UK Armed Forces Humanist Association in the forthcoming Remembrance Day ceremonies.[HL2905]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The wreath laid by Her Majesty the Queen at the Remembrance Sunday service is presented on behalf of the nation, and is dedicated to all those who have suffered and died in war. The ceremony is organised in such a way as to represent the feelings of all those wishing to pay their respects and recognise those who fought and died for their country.

Taxation: Corporation Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to introduce a sales or turnover tax to set a minimum level of United Kingdom corporation tax required to be paid by United Kingdom subsidiaries directly or indirectly owned by companies based in or operating through offshore financial centres. [HL2866]

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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Along with most major economies in the world, the UK charges corporation tax on profits derived from economic activity carried out in the UK, not on sales or turnover.

The UK system is based on internationally agreed principles that determine how much profit each country should tax. The Government are alert to the risk that some companies may try to structure their affairs so that profits from UK-based economic activity are not taxed here. The UK has specific tax rules to combat tax avoidance by international companies; and supports the G20 endorsed international action on base erosion and profit-shifting.

Thames Flood Barrier

Question

Asked by Lord Rooker

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for the medium and long-term future of the Thames Flood Barrier.[HL3054]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The Thames tidal defences are a world-class system providing a 1 in 1000 standard of protection to

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London. This means that in any given year there is a 0.01% probability of flooding from the sea.

Through the Thames Estuary 2100 project, the Environment Agency has considered how tidal flood risk is increasing in the Thames estuary. The resulting plan describes the strategic direction for managing flood risk across the estuary until 2100.

The Thames Barrier (and the associated defences) will continue to provide flood protection to London through most of this century with some modification. The Environment Agency's investigations have confirmed that there is sufficient capacity in the system, so major changes in the flood management system will not be needed until 2070 (based on current climate predictions).

However, improvements to the current tidal defences will be needed before 2070, including raising the crest level of most of the flood defences and replacing a large proportion of the defence structures as they reach the end of their lives. A comprehensive programme of continuing maintenance and improvements is therefore essential.

The plan is based on current climate change guidance, but is adaptable to changes in predictions for sea-level rise and climate change over the century.

The Thames Estuary 2100 Flood Risk Management Plan will be published on the Environment Agency's website on 14 November.