19 Dec 2012 : Column WA301

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Written Answers

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Armed Forces: Trident

Question

Asked by Lord Lea of Crondall

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 31 October (Official Report, col. 249W), whether they will publish their Trident review; and, if so, when.[HL4195]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Trident Alternatives Review will report to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the first half of 2013. There are no plans to publish either the report itself or the information it draws upon due to its highly classified nature. It remains too early to speculate about what it might be possible to say publicly about the conclusions when the review has been completed.

Arms Decommissioning

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Government of the Republic of Ireland about jointly requesting the United States Department of State to release the record of decommissioned arms produced by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning.[HL4250]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The Independent Inter- national Commission on Decommissioning stated in its final report (published on 4 July 2011) that the time was not right to release the record of decommissioned arms. We accepted that advice and have no plans at present to make any representations in respect of a joint request.

Arms Trade Treaty

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made since last July towards a comprehensive arms trade treaty; and whether they will discuss the case for this with the Government of the United States.[HL4089]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK played a leading role in securing the support of an overwhelming majority of states, including the US, China and India, for a UN Resolution convening a conference from 18-28 March 2013 to finalise work on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

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We are working closely with the president-designate of this conference and other states, as well as with non-governmental organisations and industry, to prepare the ground for agreement in March on a strong and effective treaty. Our determination and that of the vast majority of UN member states to deliver this groundbreaking treaty remains as firm as ever.

The UK is in frequent communication with the US Government on this issue. We judge the US to be very important to securing a strong and effective ATT.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Baroness Berridge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Iranian nationals made an application for asylum in the United Kingdom in the past three years on the basis of persecution because of their Christian faith; and how many of those applications were granted.[HL3567]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Data on the basis of asylum claims, specifically on the grounds of religious persecution, are not recorded in a manner compatible with published statistics.

Such data are not aggregated in national reporting systems, which would mean this question could be answered only through a disproportionately expensive manual case search to collate the data.

However, data on the number of asylum applications received from Iranian nationals, and the outcome of these applications, are published on an annual basis. Latest figures are available in Table “as.06” of the release Immigration Statistics, July to September 2012 third edition, available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Science website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research -statistics/research-statistics/immigration-asylum-research/immigration-q3-2012/.

According to the latest published statistics, in the three years from 2009 to 2011, a total of 6,165 Iranian nationals claimed asylum in the United Kingdom. Of these, 2,682 individuals were granted asylum.*

* Data in this paragraph are taken from Table as.06: Outcome analysis of asylum applications, as at May 2011. Data relate to main applicants.

Aviation: Passenger Duty

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered lowering the air passenger duty for tourists coming into regional airports in the United Kingdom.[HL4116]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Air passenger duty is an excise duty which is due on chargeable passengers departing from a UK airport. The Chancellor of the Exchequer keeps all taxes under review.

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Badgers

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the cost to local police forces of planning and preparing for the pilot badger culls which were called off earlier this year; what is the forecast cost to local police forces of the pilot culls planned for 2013; whether they will fund those costs; and what discussions they are having on the proposed culls with the police commissioners for the areas concerned. [HL4123]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The cost to the local police forces that were involved with the planning process is £110,000. The forces involved have submitted a request for reimbursement, and this is currently being considered by the Home Office, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). We do not yet have a forecast cost for the pilot culls that are planned for 2013. Defra has agreed to cover all reasonable and additional policing costs of the pilots, subject to scrutiny by HMIC and the Home Office.

Defra is engaging with policing partners at a number of levels in order to discuss the pilot next year.

Banking Bill

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask the Leader of the House which member of the Government will take the lead in taking the forthcoming Banking Bill through the House of Lords.[HL4171]

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): No such Bill has yet been introduced to either House, and accordingly there is no lead Minister assigned in the House of Lords.

Banking: Levy

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will consider allowing banks to pay their bank levy by distributable capital notes that will allow bank capital to be retained to support new lending. [HL4023]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The bank levy ensures that banks make a fair contribution in respect of the potential risks they pose to the UK financial system and the wider economy. It is also designed to encourage banks to move away from riskier funding models.

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For the purposes of payment, the arrangements for the bank levy are consistent with those which apply to all large companies when paying corporate taxes.

Banks: HSBC

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the fines imposed on HSBC by United States regulators for involvement in money laundering and sanctions breaches, whether they will institute a review of the governance of that bank during the relevant years to determine whether directors individually or collectively acted in a fit and proper manner.[HL4172]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority (FSA) considers the findings from all investigations conducted by other agencies and factors these into its supervisory approach for the firms it regulates.

The FSA does not comment on whether a firm or individual is the subject of an FSA enforcement investigation.

Banks: Lending

Question

Asked by Lord Barnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much has been loaned to banks under the funding for loans scheme since the last statement by the Bank of England; and how much of that total has been lent by banks (1) for consumer spending, and (2) to businesses.[HL4092]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England is publishing data on the amount borrowed from the bank and the net quarterly flows of lending to UK households and firms by each institution participating in the Funding for Lending Scheme, on a quarterly basis. The next set of data is expected to be published on 4 March 2013.

Banks: Switzerland

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the receipts forecast in the Autumn Statement as a result of an agreement with Swiss banks in respect of deposits and assets held with them by United Kingdom taxpayers is dependent on Swiss referenda, and, if so, when these are due to be held; what assumptions were made about the outcome of voting; and what was the basis for these assumptions. [HL4024]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK-Switzerland tax co-operation agreement was signed in October 2011. The necessary enabling legislation has been passed by the legislatures in both the UK and Switzerland.

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In October 2012, the Swiss Government announced that insufficient signatures had been collected to require a referendum on the agreement.

While the UK Government are aware that an appeal has been lodged, they still expect the agreement to come into force on 1 January 2013 as planned.

Benefits

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to minimise the impact of the 1% cap on benefit rises announced in the Autumn Statement on the poorest 30% of the population.[HL4040]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Despite the difficult economic conditions, the Government will protect the most vulnerable in the up-rating of benefits and pensions. We have continued to protect disabled people whose added-cost needs are linked to price inflation; we have maintained our commitment to increasing the basic state pension by the highest of prices, earnings or 2.5%; and we will increase the standard minimum guarantee in pension credit to ensure that the full increase in the basic state pension is received by the poorest pensioners, off-setting the cost through an increase in the savings credit threshold.

Premia paid to pensioner recipients of working-age benefits will continue to be up-rated to match pension credit rates, and premia paid to disabled people receiving working-age benefits, and the support group component in employment and support allowance, will be up-rated in line with the Consumer Prices Index.

For those in the labour market, work remains the best and most immediate route out of poverty and we have continued to prioritise providing the best possible work incentives through welfare reform. Government are keen to ensure that benefits are well targeted and fair, and it is estimated that around 3.1 million households will have higher entitlement as a result of universal credit, with around 75% of these households in the bottom two quintiles of the income distribution.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what person or organisation is legally liable for the wellbeing of benefits claimants who are found to be fit for work under the work capability assessment and who are then made to work.[HL4066]

Lord Freud: The purpose of the work capability assessment (WCA) is to assist DWP decision-makers in assessing eligibility for benefit, or levels of benefit. The WCA is not a medical diagnosis and the decision affects benefit only; it does not oblige anyone to work.

Whilst the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is legally responsible for all benefit decisions made by officials of the department on his behalf, there is no legal responsibility held by the Secretary of State for the well-being of benefit claimants.

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Therefore, neither DWP nor WCA healthcare professionals are liable for any adverse consequence suffered by a claimant following a decision that the claimant is fit for work or for work-related activity.

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the current annual cost of providing income support to 18–21 year-old claimants; what is the total number of such claimants; and how many of those are (1) lone parents, or (2) disabled.[HL4139]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the current annual cost of providing income support to 22–24 year-old claimants; what is the total number of such claimants; and how many of those are (1) lone parents, or (2) disabled.[HL4140]

Lord Freud: Income support expenditure for 18 to 21 year-olds was £362 million in 2011-12 and for 22 to 24 year-olds it was £441 million in 2011-12.

Source:

DWP Accounting data and 100% Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study data.

Notes:

Figures are rounded to the nearest £1 million.

2011-12 Income support expenditure figure is available through the local authority table here: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/index.php?page=expenditure

Estimated from four snapshot weekly amounts and caseloads in May 2011, August 2011, November 2011 and February 2012 and the total income support expenditure for 2011-12.

The table below shows the income support (IS) caseload by age (18-21 year-old and 22-24 year-old) and group (lone parents and disabled) in Great Britain at February 2012.

AllAged 18-21Aged 22-24

All IS

1,509,350

103,900

118,900

Lone Parents

584,170

74,630

95,630

Disabled

72,470

440

1,580

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Lone parents are single people with a child aged under 16.

3. Disabled are people who are receiving a disability premium.

4. Weekly amounts are rounded to the nearest penny.

Source:

Information Governance and Security Directorate. 100% Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study data.

China

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about the fate of students involved in protests in Chabcha Sorig Lobling School in Chabcha County, north-eastern Tibet; and about any immolations which have recently occurred in Tibet. [HL3683]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We are aware of reports that Tibetans Rabten, Wangdue Tsering, Chamba Tsering,

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Choekyong, Tashi Kunsang, Dorjee Tsering, Sanggye Dundrup and Kunsang Bum, all students at the Sorig Lobling medical school, were sentenced to prison terms of five years on 5 December, apparently in connection with their role in protests in Gonghe county (known as Chabcha in Tibetan), Qinghai Province, on 26 November. We are seeking to clarify the nature of the charges against them, and whether they had access to defence lawyers of their own choosing. We are concerned by reports that police in Gonghe used force to disperse protesters, with a number of students reportedly requiring hospital treatment for injuries sustained in the course of this incident. We are also aware of reports that three Tibetan monks have been detained for disseminating information about the Gonghe protests. We would urge the relevant authorities to respect the constitutionally guaranteed rights of all Chinese citizens to freedom of speech, assembly and demonstration.

Since 16 March 2011 there have been 94 immolations (of which 43 have not been confirmed by official state media). At least 77 incidents are believed to have led to the death of the individual involved. They have taken place in four regions—Sichuan, TAR, Qinghai and Gansu.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), issued a statement on 17 December setting out our serious concerns about the self-immolations in Tibetan regions, which is available at: www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-has-serious-concerns -about-human-rights-in-tibet.

Civil Partnerships

Question

Asked by Baroness Taylor of Bolton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to introduce civil partnerships for heterosexual couples.[HL4136]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The Government have no plans to introduce civil partnerships for opposite sex couples.

Civil Service: Redundancy

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 24 September (WA 336), whether the requested information on the annual cost and numbers of civil servants made redundant is available from the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme as opposed to the Cabinet Office; and, if so, whether they will provide it for the past three years.[HL2575]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Further to the answer referenced in the noble Lord’s question, the costs of redundancies are met by individual departments and it is for them to report relevant information in their

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resource accounts each year. This information is not recorded centrally by either the Cabinet Office, as managers of the PCSPS. or by the administrators of the PCSPS.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the article “A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance” in the journal Science of 30 November 2012; and whether they intend to introduce changes in the United Kingdom’s climate change policy in the light of the findings.[HL4145]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): This paper adds to our understanding of the contribution of changes of polar ice sheets to rising global sea levels and provides a useful baseline for understanding projections of how sea level will rise in the future. Such results are consistent with the UK's current policy of agreeing ambitious international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that can keep the global rise in temperatures below 2°C as agreed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will significantly reduce the scale of sea level rise compared to business-as-usual increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

Conflict Zones: Communication

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will examine the Elva mobile phone information platform, operating near the Georgia-South Ossetia frontier, with a view to its replication in other conflict zones.[HL4090]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is aware of the Elva platform and its use on the Georgian/South Ossetian Administrative Boundary Line (ABL). Saferworld and the Caucasus Research Resource Centers have discussed Elva with the FCO and the benefits it brings to security and confidence building along the Georgian/South Ossetian ABL. The FCO recognises that the Elva platform allows community representatives along the ABL to share regular reports about security trends and incidents in their communities with security providers for joint analysis and response. We are aware that Saferworld is considering introducing the system to other conflict zones and we would be happy to discuss this further with them. While the FCO recognises the benefits of the platform, it is for implementing organisations and local communities in other conflict areas to determine if Elva is appropriate for use in those areas.

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Education: Key Stage 4 Reform

Question

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to report on the results of the public consultation by the Department for Education Reforming Key Stage 4 qualifications.[HL4102]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are currently reviewing the responses that we have received during this public consultation and anticipate reporting the results early in 2013, once we have considered them fully.

Education: National Leaders of Education

Question

Asked by Baroness Brinton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether principals of (1) sixth form colleges, and (2) further education colleges, are eligible to become national leaders of education.[HL4081]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The National College for School Leadership is responsible for the designation of national leaders of education. National leaders of education are high performing head teachers and principals who, together with their staff, support improvement in primary, secondary and special schools in challenging circumstances. Principals of sixth form colleges are eligible to become national leaders of education if they can satisfy the National College that they meet the eligible criteria published on the college's website: http://www.education.gov.uk/nationalcollege/docinfo?id=155386&filename=nle-eligibility-criteria. pdf).

There is currently one principal of a sixth form college (Blackpool Sixth Form College) who was designated as a national leader of education in June 2012.

The National College's remit does not currently extend to further education colleges and, as a result, there are no designated national leaders of education in the further education sector.

Egypt

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what Egyptian Mubarak-era corrupt assets are currently frozen in the United Kingdom; and how many have been frozen in the past two months.[HL3964]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The European Union's Council Regulation (EU) No 270/2011, of 21 March 2011, imposed an asset freeze on 19 persons identified as being responsible for the misappropriation of Egyptian state funds under the Mubarak regime.

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This EU regulation requires that all assets owned or controlled by designated persons are frozen, but it does not make provision for the recovery of proceeds of corruption.

For reasons of confidentiality, the Treasury is unable to disclose the information requested regarding individual assets frozen in the UK under this EU regulation.

Energy: Fuel Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have to enable fuel customers who pay by means of prepayment meters to have access to the lowest tariffs.[HL4124]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Government are consulting on proposals to ensure that consumers are on the cheapest tariff that suits their preferred payment method.

We are also consulting on proposals to require suppliers to provide personal estimates to their customers of the savings they can make by moving to the cheapest tariff their supplier offers.

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/consultation/better-deal-energy-consumers/6996-better-deal-energy-consumers.pdf.

Energy: Shale Gas

Question

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what licences for exploration and drilling in connection with shale gas have been granted in what areas of the Isle of Wight; to whom; and for how long.[HL4193]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Petroleum licences are not specific to shale gas and do not give permission for operations, but grant exclusivity to licensees in relation to petroleum exploration, appraisal and exploration within a particular licence area. Further consents from DECC are required for any drilling operations, for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), or for production.

The following two petroleum exploration and development licences (PEDLs) have been granted for areas of the Isle of Wight:

PEDL 239 : Held by NWE Mirrabooka (UK) pty. Ltd and Wessex Exploration plc; andPEDL 230 : Held by Egdon Resources U.K. Ltd, Magellan Petroleum (UK) Ltd, Montrose Industries Ltd, and Northern Petroleum Ltd

Both licences are due to expire on 30 June 2014. At present no firm drilling proposals have been put forward by the operators.

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Energy: Voltage Optimisation

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage voltage optimisation; and what assistance they are giving to companies or organisations which promote the concept.[HL4117]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): DECC has engaged closely with the voltage optimisation over recent months, and has commissioned the independent Scientific Integrity Group, which reports to the government contractors working on the standard assessment procedure (SAP), to review evidence from industry and other sources on the efficacy of voltage optimisation as an energy efficiency measure. We look forward to the views of the expert group.

Equality Act 2010

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what opportunities are being given to the beneficiaries and intended beneficiaries of the public sector equality duty, and their representatives, to contribute to the review of that duty.[HL4067]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: We will be using questionnaires, roundtables and site visits to gather evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, including those who are protected by the legislation. Details of proposed engagement will be published shortly

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Public Sector Equality Duty Review Steering Group has started phase two of its work.[HL4068]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: Yes, we have now started the evidence-gathering second phase of the review of the public sector equality duty.

Membership of the steering group who will oversee the review and the review's terms of reference were published on the GEO website on 28 November 2012 which can be found at: http://homeoffice.gov.uk/equalities/equality-act/equality-duty/equality-duty-review/membership-steering-group/.

Finance: Payday Loans

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether proposed restrictions on sub-prime and payday lending in the United Kingdom will apply to lenders based elsewhere in the European Union, or in Jersey or Guernsey.[HL4003]

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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 5 December 2012, the Government tabled an amendment to the Financial Services Bill to clarify the Financial Conduct Authority’s powers to make rules which impose restrictions on the cost of credit and the duration of a credit agreement. This power relates to payday lending as well as other forms of consumer credit activity. Restrictions imposed by rules made under this power will apply to any person who is authorised to carry out a regulated activity involving provision of consumer credit in the UK, regardless of where the person is established.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel concerning reports of a recent air strike on the home of a policeman in Gaza.[HL3940]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The British Government are gravely concerned by the recent violence in Gaza and southern Israel and deeply regret the loss of civilian life. We consistently called on those involved to avoid any action which risked civilian casualties. We welcome the agreement reached on 21 November to end hostilities. The specific air strike of 18 November during the recent Gaza conflict was raised by our ambassador with Israel's National Security Adviser, General Amidror.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made, or will make, to the Government of Israel about the detention by their naval forces, reported on 2 December, of 12 fishermen from Gaza and the destruction of their fishing boat; and whether they have received any information about the current location and condition of the men.[HL4074]

Baroness Warsi: While the UK regularly makes representations at both ministerial and official level to the Government of Israel on the urgent need to ease restrictions on Gaza, we have not raised this specific incident with the Israeli authorities.

According to information received from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 14 fishermen were arrested on 1 December, 13 have since been released and 1 remains in custody.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to secure implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860 of 2009 regarding access to and from Gaza.[HL4076]

Baroness Warsi: We remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of movement between the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to and from Gaza. Our officials in Israel continue to raise our concerns

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on the issue of movement and access with the Israeli authorities. We are working closely with the quartet and EU partners to call on Israel to ease restrictions on access.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will open dialogue with all parties, including Hamas, to develop and implement the 12 November 2005 Access and Movement Agreement concerning Gaza and the West Bank.[HL4077]

Baroness Warsi: The ceasefire agreement reached on 22 November includes the commitment to deal with the issues of crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods to and from Gaza. The UK welcomes this agreement and supports ongoing talks in Cairo to resolve these issues. The UK and the EU stand ready to consider requests for assistance to support implementation of the ceasefire, including on the issues of movement of goods and people and of arms trafficking.

Our policy on Hamas is clear: Hamas must renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept previously signed agreements. Hamas must make credible movement towards these conditions, which remain the benchmark against which its intentions should be judged. We call on those in the region with influence over Hamas to encourage Hamas to take these steps.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy regarding the re-opening for all purposes of existing and previous crossings into and out of the Gaza Strip. [HL4087]

Baroness Warsi: The British Government worked intensively to urge all sides to co-operate with Egyptian-led efforts to reach a ceasefire and welcomed the agreement reached on 21 November to end the hostilities.

We have put forward suggestions for discussion in the ongoing talks in Cairo, brokered by Egypt, which provide an important opportunity to resolve the fundamental problems of Gaza, including achieving more open access to and from Gaza for people and goods, and an end to the smuggling of weapons. We have also suggested concrete steps that we urge Israel to take in the interim. These include, for example, further expanding the fishing limit; significantly reducing the no-go zone up to the border fence; allowing containerised imports to Gaza; and permitting goods from Gaza to access markets in Israel and the West Bank, as well as international markets.

Government Departments: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to change the process for the appointment of permanent secretaries; and on how

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many occasions since May 2010 a candidate selected following a formal application process for such a position has been rejected by Ministers.[HL4083]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I refer the noble Lord to my Answer of 11 December to a Written Question from the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, (Official Report, col. WA 210) and my Answer of 13 December to a Oral Question from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Official Report, col. 1157).

Government: Ministerial Responsibilities

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which Minister is responsible for the Land Registry in Wales. [HL4051]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The Prime Minister announced on 18 July 2011 that ministerial responsibility for Land Registry would pass to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Overall ministerial responsibility lies with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr Vince Cable. Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, is directly responsible for the Land Registry in England and Wales.

House of Lords: Correspondence

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the targets for the time taken to respond to correspondence from members of the House of Lords to the Northern Ireland Parades Commission; and what steps they are taking to ensure that those targets are met. [HL4000]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The Parades Commission for Northern Ireland is an executive non-departmental body which acts independently of the Government. The issue of correspondence between members of the House of Lords and the Parades Commission is therefore an independent matter. The Government have not put in place targets or timescales for such correspondence to be addressed.

House of Lords: Private Notice Questions

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask the Chairman of Committees how many Private Notice Questions have been submitted to the Lord Speaker for approval in each parliamentary session since 2006; how many have been accepted; and how many refused.[HL4138]

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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): The table below shows the number of Private Notice Questions submitted and accepted in each Session since the 2006-07 Session. The numbers shown for the 2012-13 Session were correct up until 14 December 2012.

SessionSubmittedAcceptedRefused, withdrawn or superseded by a statement

2006-07

14

2

12

2007-08

13

3

10

2008-09

16

7

9

2009-10

7

5

2

2010-12

52

10

42

2012-13 to date

25

8

17

The last column shows how many Private Notice Questions in each Session have been refused, withdrawn or superseded by a statement. The number of questions refused is not recorded separately, so it is not possible to break down the figures in the last column further.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that future generations will be able to afford to buy or rent their own homes. [HL4156]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are taking a number of steps to boost housing supply including investing £4.5 billion in the affordable homes programme and providing a £10 billion debt guarantee to support the building of private and affordable rented homes.

In addition, the Autumn Statement provided an additional £280 million for the FirstBuy scheme, building on the £180 million allocated to the scheme at Budget 2011. Taken together, this investment will support 27,000 first-time buyers in England by March 2014. First-time buyers can also benefit from the NewBuy mortgage indemnity scheme, which enables people to buy a newly built home with a deposit of only 5% of the purchase price.

India

Questions

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they have taken to ensure that any civil or military co-operation agreement with the Government of India does not contribute to the curtailing of the human rights of the population in the controlled areas of Kashmir.[HL3933]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government ensure all civil and military co-operation with our international

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partners, including with India, meets our human rights obligations and values, as set out under the overseas security and justice assistance guidance. We also monitor developments in Kashmir closely and our high commission in New Delhi regularly raises concerns about the human rights situation on the line of control.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have raised with the Government of India the issue of the unmarked graves found in north Kashmir between 2006 and 2009.[HL3935]

Baroness Warsi: We have not raised reports of unmarked graves in Kashmir with the Indian Government, but our high commissions in New Delhi and Islamabad regularly raise concerns about the human rights situation on both sides of the line of control. We note the decision by the Indian Government to allow UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, to pay a fact-finding visit to Indian-administered Kashmir in March 2012. We understand the state authorities are considering how to pursue the findings of the special rapporteur.

Israel

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel concerning that Government’s plan to build a military academy on the site of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.[HL3944]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We have raised this issue in the last month with senior officials in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in coordination with our French and German counterparts. We raised our concerns over the legality of building in East Jerusalem as well as the implications this could have on UK co-operation with the military academy.

We have also raised our concerns with the Israeli National Security Council and Ministry of Defence and the Jerusalem Municipality over the past three months.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will support any moves in the United Nations to require that Israel opens any nuclear facilities to United Nations inspection.[HL4063]

Baroness Warsi: The British Government regularly call on countries to place their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, as the UN agency responsible for nuclear safeguards. IAEA safeguards include measures ranging from inspections, visits, monitoring and evaluation. On 4 December the UK voted in favour of UN General Assembly Resolution 67/73 2012 on “the risk of nuclear

19 Dec 2012 : Column WA317

proliferation in the Middle East”. The resolution called upon Israel to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards as a confidence-building measure and to enhance peace and security.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 5 December (WA 180), what response the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council received from the Government of Israel following the discussion about the living conditions of the population of Area C in the West Bank at the Council meeting of 14 May.[HL4088]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): In the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 14 May 2012, the EU called upon Israel to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C, including by accelerated approval of Palestinian master plans, halting forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure, simplifying administrative procedures to obtain building permits, ensuring access to water and addressing humanitarian needs.

EU ambassadors in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem continue to press these messages in ongoing discussions with the Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

Marian Price

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why Marian Price has been detained in Northern Ireland since 16 May 2011; whether they will release her on the grounds of her age and health; and what evidence they are able to locate regarding the royal prerogative of mercy granted her in 1980.[HL4091]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): In 1973, Mrs McGlinchey (née Price) was found guilty of causing an explosion and conspiracy to cause an explosion. She was given two life sentences and a separate 20-year sentence for these two offences.

In 1980, due to her ill health she was released early from prison. She was released from the two life sentences by means of a life licence. The royal prerogative of mercy (RPM) was awarded to release her from her separate 20-year sentence.

In May 2011, Mrs McGlinchey’s life licence was revoked by the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland after a recommendation from the independent Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland (PCNI) based on information which set out the risk that

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she posed to the public. The independent Parole Commissioners are currently undertaking a full review of the case made against Mrs McGlinchey, following their initial recommendation. The full hearing, at which Mrs McGlinchey will have full legal representation, is due to take place early next year.

Consideration of release on compassionate grounds, justified by exceptional circumstances, is a devolved matter for the Minister of Justice for Northern Ireland. If protected information is involved, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland may notify the Department of Justice that a life prisoner is not to be released on compassionate grounds without the Secretary of State’s agreement. The Secretary of State cannot direct release.

The RPM did not apply to the two life sentences which were revoked and that are currently being reviewed by PCNI.

Migration

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what forecast they have made of the number of people from Bulgaria and Romania who will come to the United Kingdom after restrictions are lifted at the end of 2013.[HL4022]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government do not routinely produce forecasts or estimates of future levels of migration from individual countries. The difficulty in producing a reliable forecast of likely levels of migration, which would need to take account of a variety of factors, is in this instance accentuated by the fact that United Kingdom is not the only member state that will be required to lift existing labour market restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals on 31 December 2013.

The Government have made clear they will always apply transitional controls on new EU member states. We are also working to tackle abuse of free movement with other member states.

Money Laundering Regulations 2007

Question

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will review the operation of regulation 14 of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 in respect of Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords being treated as politically exposed persons by United Kingdom banks.[HL4098]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 1 October 2012, amendments made to the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (the regulations), took effect. The Treasury followed an extensive consultation as part of its commitment to a post-implementation review of the regulations. The review

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and subsequent changes were made to ensure that the regulations were broadly effective and proportionate in practice.

The review and consultation did not result in any change to Regulation 14, which requires enhanced due diligence measures on customers who are politically exposed persons, defined as individuals who have been entrusted with a prominent public function by a state other than the UK, an EU institution or an international body.

The Treasury anticipates undertaking a further review of the regulations, including Regulation 14, in response to a revised EU money-laundering directive in 2013-14.

National Employment Savings Trust

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to review the National Employment Savings Trust, and the cap of how much individuals can contribute per year.[HL4159]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Pensions Act 2008 requires a review of the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) in 2017, including the impact of the annual limit on contributions.

However, the Government are concerned that as employers have started to engage with automatic enrolment, the annual contribution limit and the transfer restrictions are influencing employers’ choice of pension provision in a way that was not intended. The Department for Work and Pensions has therefore published a call for evidence seeking views and evidence on the impact of these restrictions on NEST, particularly for smaller employers.

The call for evidence can be viewed on the department’s website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2012/nest-auto-enrolment.shtml. It closes on 28 January 2013.

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland: Newry River Bridge

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether United Kingdom-level approval is needed for the construction of the proposed bridge between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland across the Newry River; if so, what stage has been reached in that process; and whether they have had any discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive and the Government of the Republic of Ireland about the impact of the bridge on the passage of vessels from Carlingford Lough.[HL3924]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): Strategic planning, transportation strategy, ports and public transport are devolved responsibilities and no United Kingdom-level approval is needed in these areas. I am not aware of

19 Dec 2012 : Column WA320

any discussions concerning the impact of the bridge on the passage of vessels from Carlingford Lough between the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the salary of the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; what this would equate to if it were a full-time appointment; and whether they expect that (1) the direct pecuniary interests of the chief commissioner published on its register of interests will be quantified, and (2) paid expenses should be detailed in the case of the non-pecuniary interests of all commissioners. [HL4058]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): Professor Michael O’Flaherty’s terms and conditions of appointment require him to work such hours as are reasonably necessary to fulfil his role as chief commissioner. For this time commitment he receives remuneration of £77,000. The Northern Ireland Office would expect that all other work undertaken during his term of office will be included on the commission’s register of interests which is available on the NIHRC’s website. As the noble Lord is aware, the maintenance of the commission’s register of interests is a decision for the NIHRC who are independent of Government.

Overseas Conflict: Sexual Violence

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Wakefield

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration have they given to working with churches and faith-based organisations in G8 countries to rally support for their preventing sexual violence initiative ahead of the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in April 2013.[HL3954]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): On 29 May, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. The initiative aims to replace the culture of impunity with one of deterrence by increasing the number of perpetrators brought to justice both internationally and nationally, but strengthening international efforts and co-ordination to prevent and respond to sexual violence and by supporting states to build national capacity. During the UK’s presidency of the G8 we will run a sustained campaign to build a stronger global partnership to prevent sexual violence in conflict.

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Governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and faith groups must work together to shatter this culture of impunity. We have consulted churches and faith-based organisations during the development of the initiative and we will continue to do so. Their experience in this issue, such as through the “We Will Speak Out” coalition of faith-based groups and aid agencies which co-ordinates church-based action to combat sexual violence and provides care and support for victims, is hugely important. For this reason, the Church of England is represented on the external steering board which advises the Foreign Secretary on the initiative. This engagement is also reflected at country level where we work with local communities, including faith groups, in conflict-affected as part of our wider community engagement approach.

Private Sector: Employment

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by Lord Sassoon on 5 December (Official Report, col. 693) that 1.2 million private sector jobs had been created since May 2010, what was the source of that figure.[HL4169]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): At the time of the House of Lords debate on 5 December 2012, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that, between the first quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2012, private sector employment rose by 1.2 million. This excludes the impact of the reclassification of 196,000 employees of certain further education bodies from the public to the private sector in the second quarter of 2012.

In the latest release of the Labour Market Statistics on 12 December 2012, the ONS made routine revisions to its estimates of public sector employment levels back to 1999. These revisions have also affected the private sector employment estimates. Following the revisions, between the first quarter of 2010 and second quarter of 2012, private sector employment is estimated to have increased by 1.08 million.

In the third quarter of 2012 (latest available data), private sector employment rose by a further 65,000. This quarterly increase means that between the first quarter of 2010 and third quarter of 2012, private sector employment has risen by 1.15 million.

Railways: Franchises

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 13 December (WA 257), what consideration they have given to providing guarantees to protect investments made by train operators holding short-term franchises, in order to ensure that necessary improvements are not delayed.[HL4237]

19 Dec 2012 : Column WA322

Earl Attlee: I refer the noble Lord to the terms of reference of the Brown review which have been deposited in the Libraries of the House. The Secretary of State for Transport has asked Richard Brown to lead an independent review into the department’s rail franchising programme. This will report by the end of December and will be published thereafter.

The length of rail franchises is a matter under consideration by the Brown review. The Government do not wish to prejudice the findings of this review, and therefore are unable to provide a clear answer to this question at this stage.

Schools: Sport

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in establishing links between secondary schools and sports clubs since the start of 2012. [HL4038]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are fully committed to ensuring a lasting legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Central to this is our determination to put competitive sport firmly on the agenda in all schools, for all pupils. While we would encourage schools to work together with sports clubs to achieve this, it is for schools to decide with whom they wish to engage. As part of the Government’s youth and community sport strategy, which plans to invest £1 billion over the next five years, 6,000 new links will be established between sports clubs and schools, so that every secondary school will have the opportunity to link with a national governing body accredited sports club.

The Secretary of State is considering a range of measures to improve school sport provision and will make an announcement in due course.

Schools: Teachers

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have to improve morale among state school teachers.[HL3491]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): There can be few roles in society more important than that played by our teachers, and the Government are committed to ensuring that teaching is recognised as a high-status profession that attracts the very best people. It is important that teachers feel valued in the crucial work they do, and it is encouraging that a recent survey by the Teaching Agency found that eight out of 10 final-year undergraduates feel that the profession has real status—a figure that is increasing year on year. A survey of over a thousand teachers conducted by the Times Educational Supplement also found that teachers on the whole feel very positive about the work they do, and a clear majority would recommend teaching as a career.

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The Government want teachers to be able to focus on their teaching without facing unnecessary bureaucracy; we have therefore taken steps to reduce significantly the amount of central prescription teachers face. We are also affording teachers greater opportunities to establish and run their own schools, free from government interference.

It is right that great teachers should be rewarded appropriately, and we therefore asked the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) to look at how more effective links could be made between teachers’ pay and performance. The STRB has recommended that headteachers should be free to pay good teachers more, unconstrained by the amount of time they have served. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has indicated that he is minded to accept the STRB’s recommendations, subject to consultation. Headteachers of academies and free schools already enjoy greater flexibility in how they can reward their best teachers.

It is hugely discouraging for good teachers to see poor performance being allowed to blight pupils’ achievement and undermine the public perception of the profession. That is why we have introduced a simplified and streamlined system of appraisal which supports headteachers in effectively tackling under- performance and ultimately removing poor teachers from the profession.

Poor behaviour by pupils can represent one of the most challenging and dispiriting aspects of a teacher’s professional life. That is why we are ensured that teachers have the powers and support they need to manage pupil behaviour effectively. We have clarified advice on teachers’ powers to use force, strengthened teachers’ powers to search pupils, and removed the requirement to give twenty-four hours’ notice prior to a detention out of school hours. A survey published in June 2012 suggested that teachers are feeling more positive about standards of behaviour in schools, and a clear majority of respondents felt well equipped to manage pupil behaviour effectively.

South Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the implementation of United Nations Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in South Sudan, in particular with regard to the co-operation and co-ordination between women’s organisations and the security sector, and dialogue with local civil society organisations in planning and policy-making on security sector reform.[HL3947]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We are supporting the Government of South Sudan through the joint donor partnership to strengthen the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. In particular, the partnership will help the Government develop a

19 Dec 2012 : Column WA324

national action plan, raise awareness about UNSCR 1325 issues in South Sudan, and promote South Sudan’s legislative and policy framework which will incorporate gender equality and women’s rights.

The UK is supporting women’s participation in peace-building and stabilisation initiatives through the UN Development Programme’s Community Security and Arms Control project, the South Sudan Recovery Fund, as well as integrating gender in police reform, security sector reform and disarmament demobilisation and reintegration processes. As part of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague)’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, the UK will strengthen international efforts and co-ordination on preventing sexual violence, and work with local organisations to build national capacity and long-term institutional and sectoral reform to tackle impunity and provide support to victims.

The UK is also supporting a project to raise community awareness of early marriage in South Sudan through a ‘Girl not Bride’ project, which will provide space for informed dialogue for young girls to know, understand and influence their rights within South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution and Child Act.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the continued conflict across the borders of South Sudan; and whether there has been an increase in (1) the number of refugees, (2) the number of conflict-related injuries, and (3) detected cases of serious illness such as meningitis.[HL4086]

Baroness Warsi: We remain concerned by the ongoing conflicts in Sudan’s border areas, which are having a serious effect on the area’s inhabitants. According to the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over the last four weeks there has been an increase in numbers of refugees crossing the border into South Sudan, with 2,800 new refugees registered in Yida refugee camp between 26 November and 2 December. Due to a continued lack of access to the conflict areas, there are no reliable estimates of the number of conflict-related injuries. We are aware of an outbreak of hepatitis E in the Maban refugee camp in September, which is being addressed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. We continue to press the Sudanese Government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North to agree a cessation of hostilities and allow full humanitarian access.

Syria

Questions

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what response has been received from the Government of Syria to the comment by the Foreign Secretary in the Daily Telegraph on 8 December that, “we’ve seen enough evidence to know that they need a warning” with regard to the possible use of chemical weapons in that country.[HL4064]

19 Dec 2012 : Column WA325

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK and several international partners have made clear to the Syrian regime that any use or proliferation of chemical weapons would be completely unacceptable.

In a letter to the United Nations Security Council dated 8 December, the Syrian permanent representative to the UN said that “Syria has stated on dozens of occasions that it will not under any circumstances use any chemical weapons that it may have against its own people”.

On 10 December, a spokesperson for the Syrian Ministry of Information said “Syria doesn’t own any internationally-banned weapons, whether chemical, nuclear or biological...Even if Syria possessed such weapons, it will not use them for moral reasons.”

Since Syria publicly admitted to possessing chemical and biological weapons on 23 July, international concern about Syria’s programme has grown. The world is watching events in Syria. Any use of chemical weapons would demand a strong response from the international community and we would demand that those responsible were held to account.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will meet representatives of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union to discuss their omission from the National Co-ordinating Body for Democratic Change and the needs of displaced people in north-east Syria.[HL4078]

Baroness Warsi: Like other countries in the region, Syrians demand that their rights to liberty, dignity and to freely choose their leaders be recognised. Although the UK has formally recognised the Syrian National Coalition (NC) as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, we continue to meet representatives and members of all minorities, whether they are members of the NC or not. However the NC, as a wider and more inclusive body, provides a greater opportunity to secure a transition to a more democratic Syria and sustainable peace.

As for the Kurdish community, we appreciate the importance of ensuring that their interests and rights are respected in the future. We are therefore urging both the coalition and Syrian Kurdish leaders to ensure substantive Kurdish participation in the coalition, consistent with the coalition’s avowed inclusive and democratic aims. Jon Wilks, the UK special representative to the opposition, remains in close touch with those Syrian Kurdish opposition representatives committed to those aims.

It is important that all Syrian Kurds work together with the common goal of transition to a Syria where the interests of all communities are protected, whether its citizens are Allawite or Sunni, Christian or Kurd.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have received information that the Government of Syria is using incendiary bombs in cluster form,

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containing napalm, white phosphorous and thermite; and, if so, what assessment they have made of the origin of any such weapons.[HL4216]

Baroness Warsi: We are appalled by credible reports claiming to show the regime’s use of cluster munitions against its own people. The UK has repeatedly called on the Syrian regime to put an immediate end to such human rights violations and attacks against innocent civilians. Our position on all arms sales to the Assad regime is clear: they are only serving to prolong the regime’s capacity to murder its population and should stop immediately. The UK continues to work with its international partners in an effort to bring an end to the violence and support the opposition to achieve a political transition in Syria.

Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the comments by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on “Newsnight” on 5 December about the levels of tax paid by private equity managers, whether they have taken any steps since May 2010 to address the tax treatment of carried interest.[HL4002]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Carried interest payments (the performance-related share of investment profits) are treated as capital gains, for tax purposes, where they meet the conditions of the legislation and are a return on an investment. The tax legislation and case law applied is relevant to all individuals, not just those working in the private equity industry.

At the June 2010 Budget, the Government announced the introduction of a higher capital gains tax rate of 28%. If an individual’s total taxable income and gains raises them into the higher tax band, the portion of gains that fall above the basic rate band limit is taxed at the 28% rate.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they will take to ensure that all companies trading in the United Kingdom pay their fair share of tax. [HL4030]

Lord Sassoon: On 3 December 2012, the Government announced a further investment of £77 million in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to expand its anti-avoidance and evasion activity, specifically focusing on offshore evasion and avoidance by wealthy individuals and multinationals. This is expected to bring in an additional £2 billion in tax, per year, that would have otherwise gone unpaid. As part of this investment, HMRC will expand its risk assessment capability across the large business sector and increase its specialist transfer pricing resources to speed up its work to identify and challenge the transfer pricing arrangements of multinationals.

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Following the Chancellor’s G20 call for international co-operation to strengthen corporate tax standards, the UK, French and German Governments have pledged resources to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in order to progress work to tackle profit shifting and base erosion at the global level.

Taxation: Avoidance

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they apply any principles of acceptability to legal tax avoidance practices; and, if so, what are those principles.[HL3995]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The vast majority of individuals and businesses in the UK pay the tax that is due and on time. The small minority that try to bend the rules to achieve a tax result, which Parliament did not intend, put a greater burden on the majority. That is why the Government are taking action to tackle tax avoidance by, for example, changing the law to close loopholes and by introducing a general anti-abuse rule to target artificial and abusive tax avoidance schemes.

Taxation: Information Exchange Agreement

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what actions they will take if Guernsey does not enter into an enhanced tax information exchange similar to the one agreed with the Isle of Man; and what is their assessment of Guernsey’s commitment to combating the use of that island’s institutions for tax evasion and money laundering.[HL4021]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are fully committed to tackling offshore tax evasion. On 7 December 2012, the Government announced that it would be entering into an agreement with the Isle of Man to move to automatic information exchange. It also confirmed that it is in discussions with the other crown dependencies, Jersey and Guernsey, about enhanced information exchange as part of our common commitment to combat tax evasion. The Government does not comment on ongoing discussions.

Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Prime Minister of Turkey, reported in the Guardian on 12 November, that “in the face of deaths, murders, if necessary the death penalty should be brought back to the table”.[HL4072]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Along with our EU partners, the British Government are concerned by the launch of a debate on the re-introduction of the death penalty in Turkey.

It is the longstanding policy of the UK to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. We consider that its use undermines human dignity, that there is no evidence of its deterrent value, and that any miscarriage of justice is irreversible and irreparable.

UN: Human Rights Council

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether consideration is being given to the case for a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change at the United Nations Human Rights Council. [HL4105]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK has supported resolutions on human rights and climate change at the Human Rights Council, and, during a seminar in February at the Human Rights Council on the impacts of climate change on human rights, panellists discussed the value of a special rapporteur.

The Government are committed to tackling climate change and recognise that it will have an impact on individuals across the globe. We believe all states should ensure they meet their human rights obligations when taking action to tackle climate change. Given the very recent creation of an independent expert on human rights and the environment, we do not consider there to be a need for a further mandate on climate change. The independent expert on human rights and the environment is tasked with identifying and promoting best practices relating to the use of human rights obligations to strengthen environmental protection.

Universal Credit

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the definition of supported “exempt” accommodation where housing costs will be met outside universal credit; and whether such accommodation includes women’s refuges.[HL4110]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The definition will be:

(a) accommodation which is a resettlement place within the meaning of Section 30 of the Jobseekers Act 1995 (grants for resettlement places) and which is

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provided by persons to whom the Secretary of State has given assistance by way of grant pursuant to that section; and

(b) accommodation provided to a claimant by any of the following bodies, where the body providing the accommodation, or a person acting on its behalf, also provides the claimant with care, support or supervision—

(v) an upper-tier county council,

(vi) a housing association,

(vii) a registered charity, or

(viii) a voluntary organisation;

This is broadly the same definition as is currently used in housing benefit and most women's refuges will, as now, fall within it.

Young Offenders

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children were (1) reprimanded, (2) arrested, and (3) detained for more than 24 hours, by Merseyside Police in the past five years.[HL4037]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Data on reprimands are collected by the Ministry of Justice. The number of juveniles (aged 10-17) given a reprimand, in relation to all criminal offences, in Merseyside Police Force Area, for the years 2007 to 2011, is provided in table A.

The Home Office collects and publishes data on persons arrested. For easy reference, data on persons aged under 18 arrested, for notifiable offences, in Merseyside Police force area, for the years 2006-07 to 2010-11 are provided in table B. Data on arrests in 2011-12 are scheduled to be published in spring 2013.

Since the data in table A are based on all criminal offences, 10-17 year-olds and calendar years, and the data in table B are based on notifiable offences, all persons aged under 10 and financial years, the data in the two tables may not be directly comparable.

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Data on persons aged under 18 detained for more than 24 hours are not held centrally. Information on detentions reported to the Home Office do not separately identify the age of detainees.

Table A: Number of juveniles (aged 10-17) given a reprimand, for all offences, in Merseyside, 2007 to 2011 (1) (2)
YearReprimands

2007

1,948

2008

1,896

2009

1,774

2010

984

2011

584

(1)

The cautions statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When an offender has been cautioned for two or more offences at the same time the principal offence is the more serious offence. From 1 June 2000, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 came into force nationally and removed the use of cautions for persons under 18 and replaced them with reprimands and warnings.

(2)

Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source:

Justice Statistics Analytical Services - Ministry of Justice. (952-12)

Table B: Number of persons aged under 181 arrested for notifiable offences in Merseyside Police force area, 2006-07—2010-11
YearNumber of arrests

2006-07

9,504

2007-08

9,995

2008-09

9,022

2009-10

8,727

2010-11

7,660

1

The minimum age at which persons in England and Wales may be arrested is 10. On occasion however, a person under 10 may be arrested if their age is not known at the time of arrest. All arrests of persons aged under 18, including those under 10, are included in the table.