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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): National Health Service abortion procedures are commissioned by primary care trusts (PCTs), and may be commissioned from NHS or independent sector providers. Information on the funds provided by PCTs in respect of abortions they have commissioned from independent sector providers is not collected centrally.
Earl Howe: The Government consider the best way to meet the commitment to improve abortion counselling services for women is to look at wider issues on preventing unwanted and unplanned pregnancies and consider counselling requirements in this context. We will therefore set out our plans for improving abortion counselling in our sexual health policy document which we aim to publish before the end of the year. We no longer plan to undertake a separate consultation on abortion counselling. A short document on abortion counselling representing work undertaken by the cross-party group which looked at counselling arrangements for women requesting an abortion has already been placed in the Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they use to distinguish civilians from insurgents in Afghanistan when assessing deaths and injuries caused by United Kingdom forces; and whether the same criteria apply to casualties caused by drone aircraft.[HL2937]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Within the context of the operational environment in Afghanistan, we report the number of casualties that are caused by UK forces' actions, whether these are civilian or insurgent casualties, as accurately as practicable.
However, in all circumstances where a possible civilian casualty is reported, UK forces will investigate the circumstances. The presumption of that investigation will be that any casualty is a civilian unless it can be established that the individual was directly involved in immediate attempts or plans to threaten the lives of International Security Assistance Force personnel.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): In a Statement on 12 September, following the Angolan elections of 31 August, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for Boston and Skegness, (Mr Simmonds) said:
"I welcome the re-election of President dos Santos and congratulate the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) on its success in the third election in the Republic of Angola. I commend the Angolan people, political parties and civil society on the peaceful environment in which the elections were held.
Despite concerns about the electoral process, such as unequal access to the media, problems with voter rolls, and lack of timely accreditation for election observers, the Angolan authorities' commitment to take action to address such concerns is commendable. This is an important step toward further strengthening Angola's democratic institutions and will help to build confidence for future elections.
Baroness Warsi: The UK firmly believes that democracy is the system of government that provides the best route to building accountable and responsive states which are best able to safeguard human rights and promote development. Our embassy officials in Luanda regularly engage with the Angolan Government on democratic and human rights issues, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has funded a range of projects which have democracy at their heart including:a project run with Angola's Secretary of State for Human Rights to promote human rights and democracy among the Angolan population; anda project with a coalition of national election observers to provide funding to enable them to observe and report on the 2012 general election.
Baroness Warsi: The Angolan law on the organisation and functioning of the National Election Commission and the Constitution of February 2010 make clear that the National Election Commission must be an independent body. The commission is made up of 17 members including its chair, who must be a judge, and 16 others designated by the National Assembly. Membership is broad: the commission's central decision-making body is its plenary, in which one representative from each political party and coalition with at least one parliamentary seat and up to five representatives from political parties and coalitions without a parliamentary seat can participate.
Baroness Warsi: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, through our embassy in Luanda, carefully monitors the security situation across Angola. Since March 2011, there have been a number of demonstrations and political rallies in Angola, including during August (the month of the recent general election). Some of these gatherings have resulted in outbreaks of violence.
Baroness Warsi: Since the end of civil war in 2002, Angola has made remarkable economic progress, becoming Sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest economy. It is important the newly elected Government of Angola make sure that the economic boom benefits as many citizens as possible. I particularly welcome President dos Santos's pre-election pledge to work on reducing the disparity between rich and poor.
Angola's aspiration to graduate from the group of less developed countries (LDC) is welcome. If Angola meets the UN requirements and thus graduates, this will help achieve the UN goal set in May 2011 of at least half the current LDC countries graduating within a decade.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Work on the development of the future basing strategy is still ongoing, and it is too early at this time to confirm the future of any specific site.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Armed Forces do not use a definition of higher professional training to categorise courses. However, the Advanced Command and Staff Course (ACSC) and the course at the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) provide education and training at Masters level for officers to develop their professional understanding.
As at November 2012, 195 members of the British Armed Forces are attending ACSC or RCDS. Participation levels are not held for the continuing professional development routinely undertaken by the other professions in defence, for example doctors, engineers and teachers.
The selection of an individual for redundancy cannot be assumed to imply that the post they occupy on the date of notification is no longer required and as such the geographical distribution of redundancy notices is not a valid basis for assumptions about the future distribution of military posts. The Armed Forces redundancy programme is still being implemented and it is expected that this will be completed by 2015.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there are any circumstances under which members of the Armed Forces may be required to pay for their food while on duty; and, if so, what are the relevant circumstances.[HL2845]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Service personnel on operational deployments or authorised exercises, including those serving at sea, are provided with food free of charge. During periods of non-operational duty, service personnel pay for their food, either by a daily charge or under pay as you dine (PAYD).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): In financial year 2011-12, the latest year for which figures are available, around 40 Army officers and 1,690 soldiers were recruited through the north-west England recruiting region. Once recruited, Army personnel undertake initial and trade training as appropriate at one of the training bases around the UK before transferring to units in the field army, either in the UK or overseas.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The numbers of serving senior officers ranked 2 star and above, at 1 September 2012, is shown in the following table:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord McNally on 1 November (WS 65) regarding the European Union Justice and Home Affairs Council, what are the implications for the United Kingdom of the opt-ins to the Dublin (III) Regulations and the new EURODAC Package.[HL3111]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Dublin (III) and EURODAC (II) Regulations will between them govern the continued operation of the Dublin system by which member states determine who is responsible for dealing with an asylum claim. The Government are committed to the Dublin system, as it helps tackle the problem of people abusing asylum systems across Europe by making multiple claims in different EU member states. Since 2004 the Dublin system has enabled the UK to remove over 10,000 asylum applicants. This has resulted in significant financial savings and has also sent a powerful message that the UK can and will act against those who try to abuse our asylum system.
The Government will continue to consider the application of the UK's right to opt in to forthcoming EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country's security, protecting Britain's civil liberties and enhancing our ability to control immigration.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when interest received by the Asset Purchase Fund (APF) administered by the Bank of England appears in national accounts; and whether proceeds of redeemed securities held by the APF are re-invested or sterilised.[HL3022]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Asset Purchase Facility (APF) through which quantitative easing (QE) is implemented, is a subsidiary of the Bank of England. The APF is classified by the Office for National Statistics as part of the Bank of England. In the National Accounts, the Bank of England is classified as a public financial corporation (within the Monetary Financial Institutions sub-sector) and so, while being in the public sector, is not part of general government.
The gilts purchased by the APF are treated as assets of the Bank of England. Within the National Accounts, the gilt interest paid by Government is received by the APF (part of the Bank of England) rather than by the previous holders of the gilts, largely non-bank financial institutions. Consequently, the gilt interest receipts continue to be recorded in the financial corporations sector.
Monetary policy, including the decision on whether to reinvest the proceeds from maturing gilts in the APF portfolio, is a matter for the Monetary Policy Committee, based on its judgment on what is necessary to meet the inflation target in the medium term.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost of (1) child benefit and (2) child tax credit paid to families on behalf of 16-19 year-olds in full-time further education and unwaged training in England
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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The table below details the estimated amount of child benefit spent on 16-19 year-olds in England, who are either in full-time education or unwaged training.
|Estimated Child Benefit spend (numbers rounded to nearest £5 million)|
Lord Sassoon: From January 2013 a tax charge will be used to withdraw child benefit. The tax charge will only apply to people with an income over £50,000, who claim child benefit or whose partner claims child benefit. This charge will increase gradually for taxpayers with an income between £50,000 and £60,000. This means that 85% of claimants will continue to receive child benefit in full and 90% will benefit in full or in part.
To ask Her Majesty's Government for which non-contributory social security and housing benefits are nationality, immigration status and the nature of residency qualifying factors; and, when ascertained, whether those details are recorded and retained on social security benefit computer systems.[HL3217]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): All migrants must satisfy the habitual residence test before they are eligible to claim income-related benefits such as income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-based employment and support allowance, state pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit. The habitual residence test has two elements: a legal right to reside and an objective assessment of factual habitual residence.
The legal right to reside element of the test examines immigration status and in the case of EEA migrants, whether they have an entitlement to income-related benefits as a qualified person. Migrants from the EEA have, under the European treaty, a right to live in another member state as long as they are a qualified person. The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 transpose this into UK law, and defines a qualified person who has a right to live here as someone who is a worker; a self-employed person; a job seeker; a self-sufficient person or a student.
The second part of the habitual residence test concerns the nature of someone's residency and involves an objective assessment of factual evidence of habitual residence. Decision-makers assess a wide variety of factors to determine whether someone is factually habitually resident. These include evidence of intention to remain and attachment to the UK. Each case is treated on its own merits, in the light of the person's individual circumstances.
An EEA national who demonstrates that they have or retain worker status will satisfy the habitual residence test and can claim income-related benefits. An EEA national who demonstrates that they have self-employed status will also satisfy the habitual residence test and would be able to claim housing benefit and council tax benefit while they work as a self-employed person. They are generally not able to claim other income-related benefits such as income-based jobseeker allowance if they stop working. However, if a self-employed person is temporarily incapacitated they would be eligible to claim for income-based employment and support allowance.
Economically inactive people, who are neither in work or seeking work, are required to be self-sufficient and have comprehensive medical insurance. Similarly students are required to be self-sufficient. Therefore, under domestic legislation economically inactive EU nationals and their family members cannot claim income- related benefits
However people given certain types of leave to enter or remain in the UK may be eligible for benefits for the length of their leave to remain, e.g. people who have been granted: humanitarian protection; discretionary leave; or temporary leave to enter/remain.
Sponsored immigrants from outside the EEA who are given indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK are admitted to the UK on the understanding that they have relatives who are prepared to support them without recourse to public funds. They cannot make a claim for income-related benefits for a period of five years.
The UK's benefit computer systems do not currently record or retain details of a claimants' nationality, immigration status or the nature of residency. However, with the introduction of universal credit from 2013, the Government are developing ways to record nationality and immigration status at source.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK continues to raise the plight of the Rohingya at the UN Security Council. At our request, we have had three separate briefings in the past year from Mr Vijay Nambiar, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Burma. The most recent briefing by Mr Nambiar on 20 June included a discussion of the sectarian violence which had erupted in Rakhine State at the beginning of June.
We strongly supported a UN Human Rights Council resolution on Burma this year, which included an extension to the mandate of the UN's Special Rapporteur for Burma, Mr Quintana. We are in the process of negotiating an EU-led UN General Assembly Third Committee (Human Rights) resolution on Burma. As in previous years, we will be pressing for the situation in Rakhine State and the plight of the Rohingya to be reflected.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of satellite images obtained by Human Rights Watch of the town of Kyaukpyu in Burma, and of allegations that they represent evidence of violent attacks.[HL2902]
Baroness Warsi: The satellite images obtained by Human Rights Watch of the town of Kyauk Pyu, as part of its 27 October report Burma: New Violence in Arakan State, provide a further indication of the unstable security environment which exists across Northern Rakhine State.
Having led the first independent diplomatic mission to the areas affected by violence in early October, on 1 November our ambassador in Rangoon visited Kyauk Pyu and saw for himself the destruction of the neighbourhood. The satellite images are clear evidence of what appears to have been pre-planned and systematic violent attacks. He also visited former residents of the area, currently living in makeshift internally displaced person camps outside the town.
The UK continues to urge the Burmese Government to put in place measures to bring the violence to an end. This point was reiterated by the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), to the Burmese Charge d'Affaires on 29 October. The Foreign Secretary, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised our concerns with Burmese President Thein Sein directly on 6 November at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Laos. This followed calls for an end to the violence in our respective public statements of 24 and 28 October.
Baroness Warsi: The Foreign Secretary, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) and the Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), raised the plight of the Rohingya community with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during her visit to the UK in June. In these meetings, Ministers made clear their concerns about the issues affecting the Rohingya, including their rights to nationality.
Officials from our embassy in Rangoon remain in regular contact with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and continue to discuss a range of issues, including the UK's concern about the situation in Rakhine State. Officials discussed the latest outbreak of violence with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on 30 October. Our ambassador also raised the situation in Rakhine State and the plight of the Rohingya with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi prior to her visit to the US in September and on 11 October following his visit to Rakhine State.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Earl Attlee on 6 November (Official Report, col. WS 79) concerning the Green Bus Fund, whether applications for the introduction of trolleybuses for urban transport will be encouraged as a contribution to the green agenda.[HL3206]
Earl Attlee: Trolleybuses were not eligible for funding under the previous three rounds of the Green Bus Fund. An announcement on the eligibility rules for the recently announced fourth round of the Green Bus Fund will be made shortly on the Department for Transport website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 11 October (WA 428), when is the next United Kingdom-China Human Rights Dialogue; what will be its agenda; and whether they will raise the position of Catholics in China during that meeting.[HL2978]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK-China Human Rights Dialogue takes place annually and was most recently held in January. We have not yet set a date for the next UK-China Human Rights Dialogue. We hope the dialogue will take place later in 2013 following the conclusion of the Chinese leadership transition in March 2013. The agenda has not yet been agreed. The UK and China will agree an agenda closer to the dialogue. The agenda for the most recent dialogue included freedom of religion, as well as the rights of detainees, ethnic minority rights, the death penalty, gender discrimination and freedom of expression including media and internet freedom, the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang, and a number of individual cases.
We strongly support freedom of religion for all, including in China. The prohibition of some religious groups, and the legal restrictions and harassment aimed at others, undermines freedom of religious belief in China. We regularly raise this with the Chinese Government, and did so during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in January this year. We will continue to raise this issue at appropriate times, including at future human rights dialogues.
Earl Attlee: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) provides segmental reporting of its income within its annual report and accounts. It also provides more detailed income breakdowns to industry five times a year through the meetings of the CAA Finance Advisory Committee which is composed of aviation trade representative organisations. The sources of the CAA's statutory income can be seen from reference to the CAA Schemes of Charges which can be accessed via the CAA website at www.caa.co.uk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 5 July 2011 (WA 36-7), what measures are in force to prevent conflict of interests in the exercise by the Civil Aviation Authority of its duties to enforce the
13 Nov 2012 : Column WA272
Earl Attlee: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) does not enforce the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 or the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended). The CAA does enforce Regulation 6 of the Civil Aviation Authority (Working Time) Regulations 2004 (as amended). The CAA is the UK's independent aviation regulator and the greater part of its income comes from the range of regulatory charges it imposes on industry. It is accountable to Parliament through the Secretary of State for its functions. Funding for the enforcement of these regulations comes within the standard funding arrangements of the CAA.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many senior civil servants at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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.[HL3015]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): There is currently one core Defra senior civil servant on secondment to an organisation in the United Kingdom. He is seconded to OSPAR (Oslo and Paris Conventions for the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic).
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many senior civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions 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.[HL3034]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Department for Work and Pensions currently has four senior civil servants on secondment to companies and organisations in the United Kingdom. Two of them are seconded to NEST (National Employment Savings Trust), one is seconded to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and one to Greater Manchester and Chester Local Authority.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the European Commission on lifting the restrictions on purchasing credit default swaps on securities issued by European governments; and whether they have made any estimate of the cost of this restriction on gilt issuance and liquidity in the gilt market.[HL3023]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Under the EU short selling regulation, which came into effect on 1 November 2012, a National Competent Authority may temporarily suspend restrictions on purchasing credit default swaps on securities issued by European governments where it has objective grounds for believing that its sovereign debt market is being negatively impacted. The European Commission is not empowered to lift these restrictions under the regulation.
Sterling sovereign credit default swaps (CDS) contracts are typically used to hedge corporate rather than sovereign risk. Investors in gilts are not thought to have been extensive users of these contracts. Therefore, restrictions on the purchasing of CDS contracts on sovereign sterling debt are not anticipated to impact materially on gilt market liquidity or the cost of government financing.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government remain committed to promoting mutuals and fostering diversity within financial services. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently co-ordinated a feasibility study to examine options for the modernisation and expansion of credit unions. On 27 June 2012, the Government announced that they would take forward their recommendations. In particular, DWP will make a further investment in credit unions of up to £38 million between now and March 2015. The aim is to support the sector to provide financial services for up to 1 million more consumers on lower incomes in a way that will enable credit unions to modernise, expand and become financially sustainable.
Furthermore, in order to support credit unions, in January 2012, the Government brought a legislative reform order into effect to improve the environment in which credit unions operate. One important aspect of this order was to allow credit unions to admit corporate
13 Nov 2012 : Column WA274
The Government have also worked with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to transfer the regulation of Northern Ireland credit unions to the FSA, to be regulated alongside British credit unions. This means that Northern Ireland credit union depositors are now protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for the first time. This change came into effect on 31 March 2012.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Officials will continue to meet with civil society representatives on a regular basis and support their work wherever possible.
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.
Al! UN documents are publicly available at UN mission websites: (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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Governments of Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and Russia, and with the United Nations and representatives of the Turkish authorities in Northern Cyprus, about the finds of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean; and when those discussions took place.[HL2892]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The discovery of these sizeable natural gas reserves is a significant development in the eastern Mediterranean's energy map. As such, the issue
13 Nov 2012 : Column WA275
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): RWE announced in September this year that Didcot power station will close in 2013. It is a commercial decision for RWE as to whether it is feasible to convert to biomass.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) any differences in the state of race relations and race equality between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and (2) of any benefits or disadvantages experienced in Northern Ireland resulting from the specific legislative responsibilities and duties in place there.[HL2933]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Equality Act 2010 applies to England, Scotland and Wales and the legislation is reserved to the UK Parliament for race. Northern Ireland is covered by the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, as amended.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the comments by a senior Bank of England official praising the Occupy movement in its campaign for reform of the financial services sector.[HL2948]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice has been provided over the past five years by HM Treasury to the Home Office or the Health and Safety Executive on the manner in which fees charged by the police for the grant or renewal of certificates or other authorities under the Firearms Acts or Explosives Regulations should be calculated. [HL2943]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury has not provided any specific advice to the Home Office or the Health and Safety Executive on the manner in which fees charged by the police for the grant or renewal of certificates or other authorities under the Firearms Acts or Explosives Regulations should be calculated.
Guidance on fees and charges is contained in HM Treasury's publication Managing Public Money1, a document which sets out the main principles for dealing with resources used by public sector organisations in the UK.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK has an ongoing dialogue with the Government of Ghana about the upcoming presidential elections. Most recently, in his visit in October, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my honourable friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr Simmonds), discussed the elections with Vice-President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, Deputy Foreign Minister, Chris Kpodo, and Trade Minister, Hannah Tetteh, as well as the opposition under Nana Akufo-Addo.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have given any guidance to the Government of Ghana about the implementation of the proposed freedom of information law; and, if so, what that guidance was.[HL2928]
Baroness Warsi: Our high commission in Accra ran a project funded in financial year 2009-10 to bring two freedom of information experts to Ghana to engage with relevant stakeholders as the Ghanaian Government were developing a Right to Information (RTI) bill.
In partnership with local civil society organisations they ran a fact-finding mission to identify Ghana's requirements and then ran a two-day workshop with senior public servants to draw together ideas for the implementation process.
The key outcome of the workshop was the development of an action plan outlining major activities necessary to work towards the successful implementation of RTI in Ghana, should it be adopted into law.
Baroness Warsi: The Commonwealth has the potential to contribute significantly to the prosperity of its members given we share the core values, of democracy, rule of law, good governance, human rights and similar legal systems.
In financial year 2012-13, UK contributions to Commonwealth organisations will amount to approximately £40 million, which includes £16 million in funding to the Commonwealth Secretariat. The Commonwealth Secretariat's Economic Division aims to strengthen policies and systems that support economic growth in Commonwealth member countries. This is achieved through helping countries take advantage of opportunities, and improve their ability to manage long-term economic development.
In 2012, the secretariat helped train 220 national facilitators from both Ghana and Kenya in implementing programmes in financial literacy, and supported a conference in Accra on private equity for African institutional investors. In September, the secretariat co-hosted a workshop on venture capital for Ghanaian policy-makers and regulators to help unlock local capital for private sector investment in Ghana.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (1) letters, and (2) emails, were received by the Department for Work and Pensions in each of the past five years for which information is available; and, of those, how many were sent by (a) members of the House of Commons, (b) members of the House of Lords, and (c) members of the public. [HL3137]
The available information about correspondence from members of the House of Commons and Members of the House of Lords to the Department for Work and Pensions and its agencies is published annually by way of a Written Ministerial Statement from Government Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office.
Correspondence statistics for 2007 can be found on 28 March 2008 (Official Report, cols. WS 42-46). Correspondence statistics for 2008 can be found on 2 April 2009 (Official Report, cols. WS106-110). Correspondence statistics for 2009 can be found on 16 March 2010 (Official Report, cols. WS58-64). Correspondence statistics for 2010 can be found on 28 March 2011 (Official Report, col. WS79-83). Correspondence statistics for 2011 can be found on 15 March 2011 (Official Report, cols. WS 38-42).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they provide to departments on the acceptable length of time from initial request to provide access to papers for former ministers; and whether that guidance is adhered to.[HL2964]
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: It is the long-standing convention that former Ministers are allowed reasonable access to the papers of the period when they were in office. It is for individual departments to process such requests from former Ministers.
As a matter of courtesy when releasing papers that relate to former Ministers personally, such as in response Freedom of Information requests, former Ministers should normally be informed of the intention to do so.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of, and how many, full-time students in higher education up to undergraduate level in England from households with an income (1) below £25,000, (2) between £25,000 and £30,000, (3) £35,000 and £40,000, and (4) between £40,000 and £42,600, claimed a maintenance grant in the financial year 2011-12; and how many are forecast to do so in the financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14.[HL3091]
Provisional statistics on the number and proportion of student support applicants domiciled in England awarded different levels of maintenance grant in the academic year 2011-12 were published in table 3a of the statistical release Student Support for Higher Education in Academic Year 2011-12. Figures referring to the latest entry cohort, who entered higher education in 2009, 2010 and 2011, are shown in the table. http://www.slc.co.uk/statistics/national-statistics/newnationalstatistics1.aspx.
|Distribution of Maintenance and Special Support Grants Awarded to Applicants domiciled in England, 2011-12 (Provisional)|
|Number of maintenance eligible applicants||Proportion of maintenance eligible applicants (%)|
Under the 2012 system of support we expect around 40% of eligible full-time students to receive a full maintenance grant (available up to a household income of £25,000 in 2012-13) and around 15% a partial grant (available up to a household income of £42,600 in 2012-13).
To ask the Chairman of Committees, further to his Written Answer on 5 November (WA 175), what plans there are for Members who serve on inter-parliamentary organisations to report back to the House on the proceedings of the organisations; and what evaluation has been undertaken of the contribution made to the work of the House as a result of service on such bodies.[HL3202]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): Members serving on inter-parliamentary organisations are expected to report on their activities in the course of relevant debates and other proceedings although there is no formal mechanism for doing so. Occasionally members sponsor relevant debates-the members of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly promoted a debate in the Commons on 21 June 2012.
The proceedings and reports of the international parliamentary assemblies (Council of Europe, OSCE and NATO Parliamentary Assemblies) are available through the Library of the House and on the websites of those organisations. Transcripts of the plenary sessions and reports of the committees of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) are available on the BIPA website.
Reports of delegations of Members of the House involved in the work of CPA UK and the British Group of the IPU are placed on the websites of those organisations, in their monthly newsletters and in their annual reports which are published and are available through the Library of the House. The British-American Parliamentary Group (BAPG) circulates delegation reports among its members and also summarises them in its annual report. BAPG and CPA UK also hold formal meetings for each returning outward delegation to report back to their members, and to other Members of both Houses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department has commissioned a consortium of academics and research organisations led by Ian Cole, professor of housing studies at Sheffield Hallam University to undertake an independent review of the impact of changes to the local housing allowance system of housing benefit.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reactions of other Governments and the European Commission to the International Monetary Fund working paper The Chicago Plan Revisited.[HL2921]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's macroeconomic framework includes the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which has responsibility for monetary policy operations. The MPC's objective is to maintain price stability through an inflation target defined as a 2% annual increase in the consumer prices index. The MPC's tools include bank rate, or the short-term nominal interest rate, and quantitative easing.
"A complete move from fractional to full reserve banking would dramatically curtail the lending capacity of the UK banking system, reducing the amount of credit to households and businesses and destroying intermediation synergies".
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We are aware of the statement by the International Young Democrat Union and similar statements by the Lebanese Forces and other members of the March 14 opposition in Lebanon. We share their outrage at the callous murder of Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut on 18 October. No effort must be spared to bring those responsible to justice. We will continue to support those working to protect Lebanon's stability so that those responsible do not achieve their objective of fomenting further violence.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) was developed by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool as an approach to support the delivery of good care in the last hours or days of life.
The department does not collect information centrally on the number of hospitals, or the number of wards in those hospitals, hospices or care homes which use the LCP, or the number of patients whose care is guided by the LCP.
Information on the LCP, including the third audit, is available from the LCP website, which also provides information on how the pathway should be used: www.mcpcil.org.uk/liverpool-care-pathway/index.htm.
Some National Health Service commissioners have introduced local incentives related to use of the LCP under the department's commissioning for quality and innovation payment framework, but information on local schemes is not collected centrally.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Nigeria about the position of the Christian religion in Nigeria following the burning of a Catholic church there on 28 October.[HL2980]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Our high commission in Abuja has raised our concerns with the Nigerian Government, at both state and federal level. We regularly raise with the Nigerian authorities the need to ensure that all Nigerian citizens have the security to live and worship as they choose. We condemn the violent attacks which have sought to sow religious division in Nigeria, and regularly call for those responsible to be brought to justice.
The Permanent Secretaries of the Foreign Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence also raised our concerns with the Nigerian authorities during their recent visit.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have about the attack on St. Rita's Church, Kaduna, Nigeria, on 28 October; and what is their assessment of the role played by Boko Haram in that attack.[HL3039]
Baroness Warsi: Our high commission in Abuja understands from reporting in Nigeria that a suicide bomber in a car containing explosives pulled up to the church, was refused entry, reversed and then rammed into blockers, detonating the explosive devices in the car. The Nigerian authorities have confirmed that only one suicide bomber was involved.
Responsibility for a number of attacks against places of worship has been claimed by the Islamist extremist group commonly known as Boko Haram. Although there is widespread belief that Boko Haram is responsible for this incident due to the target and nature of the attack, there has been no claim or denial of responsibility and we cannot confirm whether the group was involved.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, prior to the devolution of policing and justice, how many Northern Ireland Prison Service nursing staff who were dismissed or suspended over prisoner suicides or non-natural deaths in custody, were (1) trained in supporting prisoners at risk (SPAR) procedures and completing SPAR forms prior to the incidents, and (2) trained in prisoner at risk (PAR) procedures and the completion of PAR 1 prior to the incidents.[HL2991]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The pre-devolution files of the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) were transferred to NIPS in October 2012 under Section 86 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Devolution of
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they require to be put in place to safeguard the value and integrity of local authority pension funds upon the implementation of the proposal by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government that the amount of those funds that may be used for local building projects may be doubled.[HL3204]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My department launched a consultation on 6 November, seeking views on the removal of regulatory barriers that may be unnecessarily limiting the proportion of local government pension scheme funds that are being invested in infrastructure projects.
Were changes to be made to regulations, it would remain the case that all investment decisions would need to comply with their fund's statement of investment principles, be supported by a clear business case and have been made in light of independent professional advice with a thorough risk assessment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it remains their intention to relax the law regarding planning consent for small extensions to residential and business property by means of statutory instrument subject to the negative procedure.[HL3092]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Yes. A consultation paper setting out full details of the proposals was published on 12 November and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House. Permitted development rights are set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended), and the proposed changes will be implemented by means of an amendment to that order via the negative procedure.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 24 September (WA 340), whether they will now give their assessment of the implications of the projection that London will reach a population size of 8.6 million by the middle of 2016.[HL2977]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Localism Act conferred on the Mayor of London responsibility for housing, economic development and Olympic legacy in London, in addition to existing responsibilities over transport, planning and the police.
Spending and service design decisions regarding how best to meet the challenges arising from London's increasing population are therefore generally a matter for the Mayor of London and the boroughs, though there are implications for all areas of government policy.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 31 October (WA 144), whether, in the light of the pause in the franchising process for all lines pending the outcome of the independent review into the West Coast main line franchise, and possible changes to franchising arrangements as a result, they anticipate having to compensate bidders for work already undertaken on other franchise bids.[HL3187]
Earl Attlee: The Government have no plans to compensate bidders for work already undertaken on other franchise bids. Unlike the InterCity West Coast franchise, the other live franchise competitions have been paused but not cancelled. Although decisions on the exact nature and timings of the future rail franchising programme cannot be taken until the department has received the final findings of the Brown review, the Government remain committed to restarting the programme as soon as possible.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 30 October (WA 128), what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the forecasts made using the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook over the past 10 years. [HL3186]
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport's approach to passenger rail demand forecasting is set out in its guidance WebTAG. This is largely based around the contents of the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook (PDFH), but does not adopt into its guidance the entirety of new versions of PDFH as they are released. The department has not, therefore, assessed the accuracy of forecasts based on particular versions of PDFH.
The department does monitor the performance of its own passenger demand forecasting guidance by carrying out back-casting exercises. A recent exercise compared forecast rail revenue with actual revenue over the period 1995-96 to 2009-10. These results
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Higher education institutes in Scotland have historically attracted around £356 million per year, from research councils, which amounts to 13% of research council awards (for around 8% of UK population).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the report of the involvement of the Government of Rwanda in the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in particular of the involvement of General James Kabarebe, Minister of Defence of Rwanda.[HL2904]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We are aware that the embargoed report by the UN Group of Experts has been leaked. It is not government policy to comment on leaked documents. However, we have consistently made it clear to the Rwandan Government, at the most senior levels, that we find the existing body of evidence for Rwandan involvement with the M23 credible and compelling. And that all such support must stop.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The auditing service with which we are discussing regulation of private security companies is the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS).
UKAS is the sole national accreditation body recognised by the British Government to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these evaluators. It is a non-profit distributing private company, limited by guarantee. UKAS is independent of the government but is appointed as the national accreditation body by the Accreditation Regulations 2009 (SI No 3155/2009) and operates under a memorandum of understanding with the Government through the Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). It is BIS policy to recommend the use of UKAS accredited conformity assessment services whenever this is an option.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Government are keen to use the momentum created by both Games to encourage even more people to continue volunteering, and are in discussions with LOCOG about how to make best use of their database to keep volunteers engaged.
We are backing front-line organisations to support existing and new volunteering opportunities, as well as investing in infrastructure and reducing bureaucracy to better connect volunteers to these opportunities.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Young people will have access to a range of courses and qualifications, including GCSE and NVQ courses, according to their educational needs and objectives while in custody.
Most of the information requested is not centrally available. However, I am able to provide data for some of the period for GCSE passes only, in respect of 16-17 year-olds in young offender institutions run by the public sector. The information is set out in the following table.
|Academic year||GCSE passes|
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