5 Feb 2013 : Column WA27

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Written Answers

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Abortion

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 8 January (WA 2), what changes in clinical practice would be required to determine the sex of a foetus, by karyotyping or other genetic analysis, after an abortion when the woman concerned initially presented for an abortion after 18-20 weeks; and how any changes in clinical practice due to subsequent laboratory tests of foetal remains would affect the treatment of women.[HL4927]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 8 January (WA 2) and the subsequent letter from Earl Howe to Lord Alton of Liverpool on 14 January in which he suggested that doctors informing women that they would have to report on the sex of any aborted foetus may cause distress and concern, what is the nature of the distress and concern that might be caused to women on being informed that the gender of their foetus would be reported; and whether such additional distress and concern would be consistent with an element of coercion in some circumstances to have an abortion on grounds of gender.[HL4929]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) guidance, The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion, does not recommend the routine histopathological examination of tissue obtained during an abortion procedure. Therefore, introducing testing to determine the sex of the foetus would require new laboratory tests, which would have a cost implication and require consent. There would need to be an informed discussion with women, in particular to explain the rationale for testing and whether they wish for the result of the test to be shared with them. This may cause distress for some women at what is already a difficult and stressful time.

The RCOG recommend that there should be careful and sensitive inquiry as to the reasons for requesting an abortion with all women requesting an abortion, with the opportunity for further discussion, especially where women express any doubts or there is a suggestion of pressure or coercion.

Africa

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to curb the spread of Islamic extremism in Francophone Africa.[HL4984]

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA28

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The recent event in In Amenas, Algeria, and the military intervention in support of the Malian Government’s efforts to combat violent Islamist extremists in Mali, highlight the threat from terrorism in north-west Africa, including the Maghreb and the wider Sahel.

The situation requires a strong collective response. We are working actively with international partners and the countries in the region to tackle the terrorist threat and counter the extremists’ narrative, but also to address the underlying conflicts and grievances the terrorists exploit.

Armed Forces: Defence Equipment

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, when negotiating off-the-shelf purchases of defence equipment, what consideration they give to the control over the costs and of future upgrades where the technology for indigenous upgrades has not been acquired as part of the purchase.[HL5078]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): All defence acquisition, including off-the-shelf procurement, is subject to a rigorous approvals process, during which the costs of upgrade and support are considered. To be approved, an investment case for a new procurement will need to have demonstrated that the purchase is affordable and will deliver value for money through life. Where a support solution or upgrade does not form part of the initial purchase contract, a separate investment case will be made and will be subject to the same scrutiny and approvals process.

Armed Forces: Helicopters

Questions

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many of the existing inventory of helicopters will be upgraded under the Apache Capability Sustainment Programme. [HL4915]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I refer the noble Lord to the answer given by my honourable friend, the Minister for Defence, Equipment, Support and Technology (Philip Dunne) in the other place on 25 January 2013 (Official Report, col. 469W).

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with countries other than the United States about forming an Apache attack helicopters user group to facilitate future upgrades, in the same manner as the European F-16 User Group.[HL4916]

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA29

Lord Astor of Hever: The UK is a member of the Apache Co-ordinated Technical Services Improvement Program (ACTSIP) which is run by the US Army. The UK gains significant benefit through its membership of this forum, which provides opportunities for member countries to discuss equipment, including upgrades support and training issues.

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when was the last sensor systems upgrade for the Apache attack helicopter; how many of the fleet were upgraded; and what was the outturn cost.[HL4917]

Lord Astor of Hever: The sensors on the UK Apache fleet were last upgraded through the incorporation of the modernised target acquisition and designation and sight and the upgraded pilot night vision system that was completed in October 2010. All aircraft, simulators, training equipment and the mission avionics system rig were modified to reflect this revised configuration at an outturn cost of £212 million, inclusive of appropriate VAT.

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the performance of the RTM322 engines fitted to Apache attack helicopters in service in Afghanistan compared with other engines in the same aircraft and theatre.[HL4918]

Lord Astor of Hever: There has been no comparative assessment undertaken in theatre of the relative performance of the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engines fitted to the UK Apache fleet and the attack helicopters used by other nations with other engines. The UK Apache fleet continues to fulfil its operational remit.

Arts Council

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to reduce the planned cuts in grant-in-aid to the Arts Council.[HL3821]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have no plans to reverse reductions in Arts Council England’s Grant-in-Aid.

British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers

Questions

Asked by Lord Rooker

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 8 January (WA 43), to which socio-economic groups the mothers referred to belong.[HL4912]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 8 January (WA 43), why the British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers (BINOCAR) covers only 35 per cent of England and Wales; and what plans they have to extend coverage.[HL4913]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers (BINOCAR) data are not held centrally by the department. We have been informed by Professor Elizabeth Draper, the chair of BINOCAR, that individual socio-economic data are not collected for the mothers of babies born with congenital anomalies. Recent changes to the National Information Governance Board for Health and Social Care permissions for the BINOCAR data Hub mean that details of mother’s postcode can now be stored at the BINOCAR Hub but this is work in progress and the information has not yet been uploaded from all congenital anomaly registers. Once postcode data are available BINOCAR data can be linked with the Index of Multiple Deprivation which can then be used as a proxy measure of mother’s socio-economic status.

Currently BINOCAR covers all of Wales but only part of England. Historically this has been due to whether funding has been made available at a regional level. The chief knowledge officer of Public Health England has established an advisory group to establish a national Congenital Anomalies Registration and Surveillance service by 2014, building on the skills of the existing BINOCAR registers.

Chagos Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Steel of Aikwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decision on 15 January of the Court of Arbitration at The Hague challenging their 2009 declaration of a marine protected area around the Chagos Islands; and what steps they will take to pursue a resolution of the matter with the government of Mauritius.[HL5091]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The decision made on 15 January by the Court of Arbitration at The Hague is only a procedural decision and does not address the substance of the issues at hand—neither the Arbitral Tribunal’s jurisdiction nor the Mauritian claim. This decision seems to be out of line with other, similar cases and may slow the process down.

We have no doubt about our sovereignty of the British Indian Ocean Territory and are confident that Mauritius’ claims are without merit. The substantive hearing will likely take place in 2014.

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Civil Servants: Political Activity

Question

Hl4508Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many unauthorised disclosures of information by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs there have been since May 2010; and how many resulted in (1) prosecution, and (2) conviction. [HL4295]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Defra takes all cases of unauthorised disclosure of information very seriously. All potential cases of unauthorised disclosures of information are reviewed and action taken as appropriate.

Since May 2010 there have been four unauthorised disclosures of information from core Defra, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

There were a further eight incidents where information relating to Defra business entered the public domain without prior agreement. However, in these instances, whilst investigations were carried out sufficient evidence could not be found to confirm that Defra was the source of the disclosure.

There have been no prosecutions of staff in these bodies in relation to unauthorised disclosures of information since May 2010.

Climate Change

Questions

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 8 November 2012 (WA 224–5) stating that the statistical model used for global temperatures was a linear trend with autoregressive noise, what is the their assessment of the likelihood of that model having superiority relative to a driftless third-order autoregressive integrated model.[HL5031]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 14 January (WA 110), on what evidence they base the claim that a driftless autoregressive integrated model has a trend differing little from the linear trend plus 1st order autoregressive process model.[HL5032]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 30 October 2012 (WA 114–15), whether the stated increase of about 0.8 degrees centigrade in global temperatures since around 1880 is considered to be statistically significant.[HL5033]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): In relation to the relative performance of these two types of statistical models, I would draw the noble Lord’s attention to the Written Answer I gave him on 14 January 2013 (Official Report, col. WA 110).

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With regard to performance of different types of models on trends, it was noted that models of similar complexity to the driftless model, though including a trend component, have been evaluated in the scientific literature in the context of global temperatures. Those models were found to give generally little difference in trend results in comparison to simpler models like the trend plus first order autoregressive model. We did not make a specific claim about the driftless 3rd order autoregressive integrated model since such a model is incapable of producing a trend estimate.

Further to the answer I gave the noble Lord on 8 November 2012 (Official Report, col. WA 224-5), the global temperature increase of about 0.8°C that has been observed since the late 19th century is calculated to be statistically significant.

Coastguard Services

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what changes have been made to, or are planned for, the number and role of HM Coastguard Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres.[HL5050]

Earl Attlee: The Government announced their policy on the modernisation of Her Majesty’s Coastguard on 22 November 2011. The blueprint document which supports this announcement is available on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s website. The modernisation programme is about co-ordination. No frontline services will be affected.

At the time the blueprint was published there were 18 Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCCs) plus the small London unit overseeing activity on the tidal Thames. In the future Her Majesty’s Coastguard will operate as a single national operations network strategically managed by the national Maritime Operations Centre (MOC). In addition to the MOC there will be nine 24-hour Coastguard Operations Centres (CGOCs), the replacement for the MRCCs, plus the London unit, connected to the single network of data and communication systems.

In line with the modernisation plan, Forth and Clyde MRCCs have recently closed as part of the transition to the new arrangements, that are due to complete in 2014-15.

Courts: Justice Clerks

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many justices clerks are employed by HM Courts and Tribunal Service; and whether any changes are planned to those numbers.[HL4864]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): HM Courts and Tribunal Service employs 26 justices’ clerks. There are no planned changes to those numbers.

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Energy: Biofuels

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the level of imports into the United Kingdom of biofuel feedstocks from countries in receipt of United Kingdom bilateral aid.[HL4876]

Earl Attlee: Statistics produced by the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) Unit in the Department for Transport include the volume of biofuel supplied by feedstock and country of origin. These are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-transport/series/biofuels-statistics.

Table RTFO 05 of the statistics for obligation year 4 (2011-12) sets out the reported sources of biofuel, by feedstock and country of origin. None of these countries is in receipt of United Kingdom bilateral aid. Information on countries in receipt of United Kingdom bilateral aid is set out in pages 45-72 of the Department for International Development’s annual report and accounts 2011-12. This document is available at: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Documents/publications1/departmental-report/2012/Annual-report-accounts-2011-12.pdf.

Energy: Severn Barrage

Questions

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on how many occasions between 1 March 2011 and 14 January 2013 discussions took place between Hafren Power and ministers or officials in relation to the proposed Severn Barrage scheme.[HL5096]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): All meetings between external organisations and Government Ministers are published quarterly on the GOV.UK website at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?keywords=&publication_filter_option=transparency-data&topics%5B%5D=all&departments%5B%5D=department-of-energy-climate-change&direction=after&date=2011-03-01.

The most recently published list covers the period of April to June 2012. The period for July to September 2012 is currently being collated.

Details of meetings involving external organisations and government officials are not held centrally nor published. DECC officials have met with Hafren Power, or its predecessor Corlen Hafren, on 6 occasions between 1 March 2011 and 14 January 2013, and there has been one conference call.

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Baroness Verma on 17 January (Official Report, col. 784), whether they have received from

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA34

Hafren Power its business case relating to the proposed Severn Barrage, sent in November, together with the supplementary document dealing with environmental, technical and legislative issues, and compensatory and mitigation considerations, and proposals for the consultation process.[HL5100]

Baroness Verma: Conan Hafren submitted an outline business case to DECC in November 2011. This was followed by supplementary information in February 2012 in answer to a request from DECC for further details.

Government had a series of meetings with them, at both ministerial and official level, and with Hafren Power (the consortium which has succeeded Colgan Hafren) but have not received an update from Hafren Power on the original business case submitted.

Energy: Smart Meters

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether smart meters in homes will enable energy companies to control consumption or cut off energy supplies to consumers.[HL5088]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Smart metering will enable suppliers to remotely switch domestic customers from credit to pre-payment tariffs and, in extreme cases, to disconnect their supply. This provides cost savings in terms of debt management and can also lead to benefits for consumers, including the ability to switch between payment methods more easily.

Ofgem has already introduced new licence conditions to protect consumers in terms of how load limiting, remote disconnection and remote switching to pre-payment tariffs are used. This will ensure that existing rules around pre-payment and disconnection also apply to remote switching and remote disconnection. For example, suppliers are prohibited from disconnecting customers of pensionable age who live alone or with others of pensionable age or under the age of 18 during winter. Ofgem has committed to keep this area under review.

Smart meters will also enable suppliers to offer domestic consumers load limiting tariffs and tariffs based on the control of specified loads. A load-limiting tariff could provide financial incentives for customers to keep their rate of consumption below a set limit; a load-control tariff could offer consumers a cheaper price in return for allowing a supplier to remotely control a large load (eg charging an electric vehicle). This will facilitate demand side management. A recent Ofgem review found that the majority of suppliers are some way off developing plans for the use of load limiting in the domestic sector.

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EU: UK Membership

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect to begin discussions with other European Union members with respect to the Prime Minister’s speech on 23 January regarding a proposed referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.[HL4945]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government frequently discusses a range of issues with other EU member states, including the key challenges that all EU countries face in dealing with the eurozone crisis, increasing competitiveness and addressing the disengagement of large numbers of European voters. Many EU member states agree about the need for reform to address these challenges.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning fatalities and injuries in the Gaza buffer zone since the 21 November ceasefire. [HL4921]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK remains concerned about the situation in Gaza and by recent incidents in and around Gaza.

Our embassy in Tel Aviv has discussed with the office of the Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories our continuing concerns over reports of civilian injuries and deaths in Israeli Defence Force operations in the West Bank and Gaza. We are continuing to monitor developments closely and to raise our concerns as appropriate.

We continue to urge restraint on all sides and to condemn any acts that might lead to an escalation of the fragile situation on the ground or cause civilian casualties. All such violence represents both an unacceptable risk to innocent life and a real obstacle to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning reports of a naval vessel firing upon Gazan fishermen within the 6-mile limit agreed in the 21 November ceasefire.[HL4923]

Baroness Warsi: The UK regularly makes representations at both ministerial and official level to the Israeli authorities on the urgent need to ease restrictions on Gaza. Most recently, officials from our embassy in

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Tel Aviv have raised our concerns with the Office of the Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories on 21 January and with the Israeli National Security Council on 28 January over Palestinian casualties caused by Israeli Defence Forces operations.

Government: Ministerial Visits

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which Ministers will be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos; how many officials will accompany them; and what is their estimate of the total cost of participating in that event.[HL4841]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron); the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right honourable friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne) and Minister for the Cabinet Office, my right honourable friend the Member for Horsham (Mr Maude), attended the World Economic Forum at Davos this year. Twenty officials also attended.

The actual cost of the ministerial visits will be published by the respective departments in due course as part of the Government’s transparency reporting.

Health: Drugs

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to publish proposals to take forward the implementation of value-based pricing for NHS drug procurement.[HL5063]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they still intend to implement value-based pricing for NHS drug procurement from January 2014. [HL5064]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans for public consultation on the introduction of value-based pricing for NHS drug procurement. [HL5065]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We set out our proposals in the consultation A New Value-Based Approach to the Pricing of Branded Medicine, which ran from December 2010 to March 2011, and published the Government’s response to the consultation in July 2011. A copy has already been placed in the Library. Following the consultation, we have been collaborating with external experts and stakeholders in our work to develop the value-based pricing assessment model, and held a series of engagement events during 2012 with a wide range of participants including representatives of patients, clinicians, the National Health Service, taxpayers, industry and other interested parties.

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA37

New pricing arrangements for branded medicines, including value-based pricing for new medicines, will be introduced from January 2014. Negotiations with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry on the new pricing arrangements are ongoing.

Health: Healthwatch England

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure the independence of Healthwatch England. [HL4831]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Arrangements are in place to ensure that Healthwatch England functions independently of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) whilst benefiting from its position as a statutory committee of the regulator and without compromising good governance and lines of accountability.

Healthwatch England must have a majority of members who are not members of the CQC.

Healthwatch England will set its own strategic priorities and will have operational and editorial independence.

Healthwatch England will develop its own business plan, take responsibility for managing its budget, monitoring its performance against its business plan and managing any emerging risks without requiring the approval of the CQC board.

Healthwatch England will be able to produce and publish its own reports (including an annual report to Parliament) even when commenting on the same issue as the CQC, or responding to the same consultation.

Health: Paediatrics

Question

Asked by Baroness Benjamin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether paediatric continence issues will be addressed in the Child Health Strategy; and what plans they have to improve treatment of bladder and bowel problems for children and young adults.[HL4997]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government response to the report of the Children and Young People’s Health Outcome Forum will be published shortly, setting out the first stage of our collaborative work, which looks across the health system as a whole rather than focusing on condition specific interventions, to improve health outcomes for children and young people.

One of the forum’s key recommendations relates to the need to develop measures of patient experience across all age groups and settings. Such measures have the potential to drive genuine and sustained improvements in children and young people’s experience of care, including paediatric continence services.

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The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published guidance to support the commissioning of high quality paediatric continence services. The NHS Commissioning Board is responsible for holding clinical commissioning groups to account for the excellence of their commissioning and provision of services to meet the needs of their local population.

Health: Quality and Outcomes Framework

Question

Asked by Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received about reform of the Quality and Outcomes Framework.[HL5107]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government have received a number of representations about the reform of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) since its inception nine years ago. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence also encourages anyone with an interest in health to comment on their proposals and current indicators in QOF and other frameworks.

In the past 12 months, the department has received four letters from Members of Parliament with suggestions from their constituents for reforms to the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), including two letters calling for new indicators for Vitamin D and obesity. We received one letter from the National Obesity Forum calling for new indicators on obesity.

We have also received eight letters from Members of Parliament enclosing letters from general practitioners (GPs) and a letter from the General Practitioners Committee, expressing concern at the Government’s proposed changes to QOF as part of the GP contract for 2013-14.

In addition, The Management of Diabetes Services in the NHS, a report by the National Audit Office, referred to problems with the QOF, including that it did not incentivise GP practices to exceed upper thresholds of achievement. The report was the subject of a Public Accounts Committee hearing in June 2012.

Health: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of staffing levels in hospitals on death rates.[HL4986]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): No assessment has been made of the impact of staffing levels in hospitals on death rates. Ministers have regular discussions on a range of performance issues including staffing levels. However, decisions on the appropriate workforce needed to deliver high quality care must be taken locally and it is the responsibility of local professional leadership teams to determine appropriate staffing levels.

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Any changes to any staffing levels and skill mix must be made in a way which ensures that the safety and quality of services to patients is maintained as required in the NHS Operating Framework.

There are now over 6,000 more qualified clinical staff working than there were in May 2010. The nursing, midwifery and care strategy led by the chief nursing officer is very clear that hospitals should publish staffing levels and the evidence to show that the numbers are right for the services they deliver and the patients they care for. The department fully supports this.

Henderson Island

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps are being taken to eradicate rats on Henderson Island.[HL5105]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) ran a rat eradication programme in 2011. Unfortunately this was unsuccessful in removing all the rats from Henderson Island. We are analysing the detailed independent reports commissioned by the RSPB and working with the Pitcairn community to establish the next steps. We remain committed to working with Pitcairn and partner organisations to protect the environment and biodiversity of these internationally important islands.

House of Lords: Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees what is the administrative process in the House of Lords for determining the priorities for expenditure; and to whom Members should communicate their ideas on determining such priorities.[HL4885]

The Chairman of Committees: Priorities for expenditure are set first in the Strategic Plan. The current Strategic Plan (2011-15) was agreed by the House Committee in 2010. The Strategic Plan is currently under review by the House Administration’s Business Planning Group, and a new draft plan will in due course be brought before the House Committee.

Within the context set by the Strategic Plan, priorities are determined through the annual financial and business planning process which takes place between October and March each year. Departments submit business and financial plans; these are challenged by the Business Planning Group and the finance director, who then propose a House-wide business plan and financial plan (respectively) to the Management Board. Bicameral investment plans are prioritised through a medium-term investment plan considered by the Management Boards of both Houses. The financial plan is considered by the House Committee in December and the business

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plan in February/March. The House Committee is also interested in developing ways to consider spending priorities earlier in the financial planning process.

Members with ideas on spending priorities may make their views known to their party’s representatives on the House Committee, or any of the other domestic committees, or to me. A Survey of Members’ views on facilities and services, including on priorities for improvement, was conducted in 2012.

House of Lords: Members’ Allowances

Questions

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether the proposed baseline for Members’ finance of £22,141,554 in the House of Lords financial plan for the year 2014–15 includes provision for the payment of expenses or allowances to peers appointed in the period January 2013 to May 2015.[HL4882]

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether the House of Lords estimate for Member’s finance for the year 2012–13 of £21,571,500 includes provision for the payment of expenses to newly appointed peers in the same period.[HL4883]

To ask the Chairman of Committees to what extent the introduction of newly-appointed peers to the House of Lords influences the allocation of resources for funding attendance allowances. [HL4884]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): As the scheme of financial support for Members is based on Member attendance, the financial provision is based upon an estimated average daily attendance rather than the number of Members eligible to attend or the date of their appointment. The current financial provision for the years covered by these questions, agreed in December 2012, is based upon the following projected average daily attendance:

2012-13—490;

2013-14—499; and

2014-15—499

These projections were made on the basis of current levels of attendance rather than on any assumptions about future creations of peerages.

House of Lords: Pork and Bacon

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle

To ask the Chairman of Committees , further to his Written Answer on 29 January (WA 311), from which countries the bacon served in the River Restaurant originate.[HL5072]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): Bacon served in the River Restaurant originates from the Netherlands.

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House of Lords: Savings Strategy and Financial Plan

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees what has been the saving from the budget for Members’ IT Services, and from the less frequent replacement of equipment, arising out of the House of Lords savings strategy and financial plan approved in 2010.[HL4860]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): Two factors helped to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of providing Members of the House with IT equipment and personal digital assistants (PDAs). First, in 2009, it was decided to extend the life of IT equipment from three to four years. Secondly, while Members were already happy to keep their PDAs for as long as possible, in 2010 PICT entered into an agreement with BlackBerry whereby the devices were provided free subject to a monthly charge.

The actual expenditure on IT capital and on PDA rental from 2009-10 to 2011-12 is as follows:

IT equipment costPDA equipment costPDA rental and charges

2009-10

179k

19k

25k

2010-11

426k

15k

41k

2011-12

100k

2k

61k

Because of the influx of new Members in 2010 and 2011, and a major upgrade of equipment in 2010-11, it is not possible to compare like with like from year to year.

A better measure is the annual cost of providing a Member of the House with the standard issue of IT equipment and a PDA in 2009 and 2012.

In 2009 the total cost of IT equipment which a Member might elect to receive was £1,937 written off over three years ie £646 per annum. In 2012 the equivalent cost is £2,015 written off over four years ie £504 per annum.

In 2009 the cost of providing a PDA (HTC device) was £374 with a monthly charge of £9.99. In 2012 the cost of providing a PDA (BlackBerry) was nil, with a monthly charge of £18.60.

House of Lords: Fairtrade Products

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle

To ask the Chairman of Committees what proportion of bananas used or sold in House of Lords food outlets are Fairtrade.[HL5073]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): All bananas procured for the House’s catering outlets are Fairtrade.

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Internet: Broadband

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what size has been specified for the street cabinets used under their scheme to provide super-fast broadband to rural communities; who has specified the size; what technical requirements necessitate that size; and whether they are promoting any research to enable a reduction in cabinet size.[HL4199]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: Under the Broadband UK framework, the Government require that the visual impact of suppliers’ solutions, along with other environmental factors, is a key evaluation criterion. Furthermore, the BDUK framework contract requires that suppliers comply with relevant environmental legislation and that a supplier must prescribe the environmental impact of the solution before implementation. The size of the cabinet will be dependent on the number of customer premises to be served.

Israel

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel concerning recent reports of the demolition by the Israeli military of buildings in the al-Maleh area of the northern Jordan Valley.[HL4924]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We have repeatedly raised the issue of demolitions in the Jordan Valley with the Israeli authorities. We view such demolitions and evictions as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, as harmful to the peace process, and in all but the most limited circumstances as contrary to international humanitarian law.

The recent demolition of homes in the al-Maleh region of Jordan Valley was raised on 21 January 2012. Our embassy officials in Tel Aviv raised concerns over the decision, and the impact on the local community with the Israeli Co-ordinator Of Government Activities Territories.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), will also continue to discuss issues linked to settlements and demolitions with Israel’s ambassador to the UK.

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel following the recent shooting of Anwar Al-Malouk.[HL4922]

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA43

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government are very concerned that six Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in different incidents in recent weeks. We have raised these cases with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and the relevant Israeli authority for the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The IDF has launched internal investigations into these cases, which the UK will follow closely.

The UK has repeatedly made clear to Israel our long-standing concerns about the manner in which the IDF polices non-violent protests and the border areas, including use of live ammunition. We will continue to do so.

Judiciary: Agencies

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the work of the Judicial Issues Working Group and Area Judicial Forums.[HL4863]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): There are a number of groups, such as the Justices’ Issues Groups and the Area Judicial Forum, which were set up in 2005 to support the effective management of judicial business in the magistrates’ courts following the creation of Her Majesty’s Courts Service. Any assessment or review of this structure is a matter for the judiciary.

Kazakhstan

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Prime Minister has plans to visit Kazakhstan; if so when; and what are the goals of that visit.[HL4983]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Details of my right honourable Friend the Prime Minister’s engagements are announced as and when appropriate in light of security, logistical and other considerations.

Mali

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of the £2 million allotted to supporting political processes in Mali will be used for engagement with the Tuareg people and their leaders; and whether additional funds will be available for that purpose, if necessary.[HL5041]

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA44

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): A mechanism to discuss in detail the use of the money pledged at the African Union Donor conference is being established. Our intention is that the £2 million we pledged to the Trust Fund for Mali should be used specifically for activity in Mali to facilitate and support political processes for building stability. This could include, for example, the conduct of credible and inclusive presidential and legislative elections, the promotion of national dialogue, security sector reform, and the initial demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants. Of these activities, some are likely to involve engagement with the Tuareg people. No decision has been taken on making further funds available to the trust fund.

National Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they propose to raise the rate for employers’ national insurance contributions from the current 10.4% to 13.8% and employees’ national insurance contributions from the current 10.6% of earnings to 12%; and what is their estimate of the annual cost for public sector employers of that rise from 2017.[HL4837]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government set out their proposals for a single-tier state pension on 14 January in The Single-Tier Pension: A Simple Foundation for Saving. Under these proposals the lower rates of national insurance contributions currently paid in respect of employees who contract out of the state second pension will no longer be required, as all employees will be contributing towards the same single-tier pension.

The 13.8% rate and 12% rates are already paid by most employers and employees respectively. The rise will apply from April 2017 at the earliest, and only where employees are participating in defined benefit pension schemes, so would be contracted out of the state second pension under the current state pension system. Subsequently, employers offering defined benefit schemes will also no longer pay the lower employer national insurance contribution rates for this group of employees. Most people whose national insurance contributions are increased will receive a higher state pension than they would have done under the current system.

Details of the impact of these changes on employers and employees in the public and private sectors are set out in chapters 5 and 6 of the impact assessment accompanying The Single-Tier Pension: A Simple Foundation for Saving. The impact assessment was published on 18 January and is available on the internet at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/single-tier-pension-impact-assessment.pdf.

Table 6.1 of the impact assessment provides estimates of the cost to public sector employers.

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA45

NHS: General Practitioners and Nurses

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) registered general practitioners, and (2) registered nurses, are employed by the National Health Service in each of the London Boroughs.[HL5028]

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA46

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information is not available in the format requested. The numbers of general practitioners and registered nurses working in National Health Service organisations across London as at 30 September 2011 are shown in the following table.

All GPs (excluding retainers and registrars) and qualified nursing staff by organisation in London SHA: full time equivalents as at 30 September 2011
full time equivalent
All GPs (excluding GP retainers and GP registrars)1Qualified nursing, midwifery & health visiting staff

England

31,391

306,346

London Strategic Health Authority area

4,873

51,785

5C2

Barking and Dagenham primary care trust (PCT)

85

15

RF4

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

-

1,866

RVL

Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust

-

1,313

5A9

Barnet PCT

182

279

RRP

Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust

-

824

RNJ

Barts and the London NHS Trust

-

2,531

TAK

Bexley Care Trust

103

7

5K5

Brent Teaching PCT

179

9

5A7

Bromley PCT

169

212

TAF

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

-

492

5K7

Camden PCT

176

228

RV3

Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust

-

1,189

RYX

Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust

-

687

RQM

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

-

1,040

5C3

City and Hackney Teaching PCT

162

26

RJ6

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust

-

920

5K9

Croydon PCT

222

-

RC3

Ealing Hospital NHS Trust

-

1,059

5HX

Ealing PCT

199

10

RWK

East London NHS Foundation Trust

-

1,147

5C1

Enfield PCT

163

1

RVR

Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

-

1,322

RP4

Great Ormond Street Hospital For Children NHS Trust

-

1,061

5A8

Greenwich Teaching PCT

149

5

RJ1

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

-

3,543

5H1

Hammersmith and Fulham PCT

115

15

5C9

Haringey Teaching PCT

170

10

5K6

Harrow PCT

131

-

5A4

Havering PCT

116

449

RAS

Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

-

753

5AT

Hillingdon PCT

148

233

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA47

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA48

RQX

Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

-

1,012

RY9

Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust

-

-

5HY

Hounslow PCT

134

2

RYJ

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

-

3,229

5K8

Islington PCT

152

5

5LA

Kensington and Chelsea PCT

101

3

RJZ

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

-

2,263

RAX

Kingston Hospital NHS Trust

-

729

5A5

Kingston PCT

120

-

5LD

Lambeth PCT

218

4

RJ2

Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust

-

955

5LF

Lewisham PCT

167

94

RRU

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust

-

-

Q36

London Strategic Health Authority

-

1

RP6

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

-

350

5C5

Newham PCT

173

-

RNH

Newham University Hospital NHS Trust

-

753

RAT

North East London NHS Foundation Trust

-

714

RAP

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

-

730

RV8

North West London Hospitals NHS Trust

-

1,489

RPG

Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust

-

1,009

5NA

Redbridge PCT

115

85

5M6

Richmond and Twickenham PCT

105

269

RT3

Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust

-

1,079

RAL

Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust

-

1,560

RPY

Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

-

743

RAN

Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust

-

351

RV5

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

-

1,472

RYQ

South London Healthcare NHS Trust

-

1,809

RQY

South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust

-

671

5LE

Southwark PCT

183

-

RJ7

St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust

-

2,319

5M7

Sutton and Merton PCT

242

239

RNK

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

-

14

5C4

Tower Hamlets PCT

183

-

RRV

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

-

2,202

5NC

Waltham Forest PCT

139

4

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA49

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA50

5LG

Wandsworth PCT

241

33

RKL

West London Mental Health NHS Trust

-

1,199

RFW

West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

-

638

5LC

Westminster PCT

131

3

RGC

Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust

-

1,162

RKE

Whittington Hospital NHS Trust

-

1,199

NNV

Your Healthcare

-

148

Notes:

1. All GPs (excluding GP retainers and GP registrars) includes GP Providers and Other GPs.

‘-’ denotes zero.

Full time equivalent figures are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Data as at 30 September 2011.

Data Quality.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre for health and social care seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data but responsibility for data accuracy lies with the organisations providing the data. Methods are continually being updated to improve data quality where changes impact on figures already published. This is assessed but unless it is significant at national level figures are not changed. Impact at detailed or local level is footnoted in relevant analyses.

Source:

Copyright © 2013 Health and Social Care Information Centre Non-Medical Workforce Census. All rights reserved.

This work remains the sole and exclusive property of the Health and Social Care Information Centre and may only be reproduced where there is explicit reference to the ownership of the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Northern Ireland

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent discussions they have had with (1) the Northern Ireland Executive, and (2) the political parties in Northern Ireland, about their plans for resolving issues concerning the past in Northern Ireland. [HL4809]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has regular discussions with the political parties and Executive Ministers. Dealing with the past has been discussed in the context of these meetings, though it is clear that there remains no consensus on this issue.

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to bring forward their proposals about dealing with past in Northern Ireland.[HL4810]

Baroness Randerson: The Government continue to work with politicians in Northern Ireland and other interested parties to see whether it is possible to develop some form of consensus on how to deal with the past. In the meantime, it is important to maintain our focus on working with and encouraging the executive to devise strategies aimed at building a genuinely shared future for the people of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Act 1998

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to bring forward proposals to amend the Northern Ireland Act 1998, following their consultation on measures to improve the operation of the Northern Ireland Assembly.[HL4942]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The Government will publish draft legislation on various matters relating to Northern Ireland for pre-legislative scrutiny in February.

Pakistan

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have received about targeted killings and terrorist bombings in Karachi since the start of 2012. [HL4974]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We receive information from a variety of sources on targeted killings and terrorist bombings in Karachi, including from regular contact with the authorities in Pakistan and the media. Our deputy

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA51

high commissioner in Karachi meets representatives of all political parties in Karachi to encourage them to work towards stability in Karachi and the wider region.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of extra cost to the National Health Service of introducing a single flat-rate pension.[HL4832]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government Actuary’s Department has estimated that the extra cost of increased national insurance contributions to employers with staff who are members of the NHS Pension Scheme following the introduction of a single-tier pension scheme will be £0.9 billion per year, based on the 2011-12 hospital and community health services pay bill. As a start date for the policy has not been confirmed, this Answer is based on current paybill as if reforms were to take effect immediately.

We have no estimate for general practitioner practice staff.

The Government intend to introduce the single-tier pension from 2017 at the earliest and will take account of its impact at the appropriate time as part of a wider consideration of how best to deliver public services.

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 19 November (WA 325), whether the statutory funding objective and the statement of funding principles in Sections 222 and 223 of the Pensions Act 2004, and the calculation of technical provisions by occupational pension schemes in the Scheme Funding Regulations 2005, apply to the BBC Pension Scheme.[HL4838]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The scheme funding requirements in Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 (including Sections 222 and 223), and the Scheme Funding Regulations 2005, apply to all occupational schemes other than schemes which operate on a wholly money purchase basis, and schemes which fall within one of the exempt categories in the Scheme Funding Regulations. The BBC Pension Scheme does not fall within either of these categories, and is therefore subject to these requirements.

Scotland: Referendum

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recommendations of the Electoral Commission in relation to Scotland’s independence referendum, including those on spending limits.[HL5097]

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA52

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The UK Government welcome the reports from the Electoral Commission. We agree with the commission’s advice on the question, the funding levels for the referendum and on the clarity of the process.

Syria

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what minority groups and secular and liberal organisations are part of the Opposition Coalition in Syria; and what percentage of the Opposition is comprised by the Muslim Brotherhood.[HL4770]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The National Coalition (NC), as a wider and more inclusive body than previous opposition groupings, provides a greater opportunity to secure a transition to a more democratic Syria and sustainable peace.

It comprises a broad range of religious and ethnic groupings and secularists, including Christians, Kurds, Druze, Sunnis and Allawites. We are continuing to press the NC to bring in appropriate representatives of the Kurdish community. The NC also contains prominent individuals noted for their secular and liberal outlooks rather than as members of a particular organisation or grouping.

In the opposition more generally, the Muslim Brotherhood represents the largest political grouping, but we judge that its members form a relatively small proportion of those Syrians who are working for an alternative to the Assad regime.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of links between the Syrian Opposition and the al-Nusra Front; whether they have received information that al-Nusra is being funded by states in the Gulf; and, if so, which ones.[HL4771]

Baroness Warsi: The UK condemns all forms of terrorist activity and we are concerned about terrorist groups gaining a foothold in Syria. We want to see Syria emerge from the current conflict to become a stable and more open political system. The Syrian opposition comprises a broad range of groups from different backgrounds. However, in the shifting conflict, it is impossible to draw clear links between political opposition groups and extremist groups like al-Nusra.

We assess that al-Nusra receives funds from a ranges of sources, but cannot comment on specific donors.

Terrorism

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have received information regarding support and fundraising for the RSS in the United Kingdom. [HL5116]

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA53

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): In relation to whether Her Majesty’s Government have received information regarding support and fundraising for the RSS in the United Kingdom, I am unable to comment on intelligence matters.

We are confident the police have the appropriate powers to deal with terrorism or fundraising for illegal purposes in the UK.

United Arab Emirates

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Government of the United Arab Emirates about arrangements for fair and public trials for the persons accused of plotting to overthrow the Government of that country and about protecting the families of the accused from harassment.[HL5042]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We have raised with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government at ministerial level the importance we attach to observing international human rights standards and will continue to do so.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), spoke to the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, about these issues at the UK¬UAE Taskforce on 24 January.

During his visit to the UAE in November 2012, the Prime Minister, my right honourable Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), was clear that there would be no no-go areas for discussion.

Uzbekistan

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have received a proposal for an official visit to the United Kingdom by the Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan; and, if so, whether they have agreed a date and topics for consideration.[HL4982]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We welcome recent bilateral exchanges with Uzbekistan. Visits in 2012 by UK Ministers and parliamentarians included the Secretary of State for Defence, my right honourable Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), Peter Lilley MP, my right honourable Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden, as the co-chair of the Uzbek British Trade and Investment Council, and the noble Baroness Stern. I also visited the country in April 2012.

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA54

The past 12 months have seen visits to the UK by the Uzbek Ministers for Justice, Higher Education, Public Education and the Deputy Minister for Defence.

We are keen for this high level dialogue to continue and will work with the Uzbek Government to explore possibilities for bilateral visits at ministerial level over the coming months.

Violence Against Women

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the levels of physical and sexual violence experienced by Dalit women in India. [HL4902]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We are concerned about the treatment of Dalit women, including the risk of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of Dalit women and girls in India. The Government will continue to raise these issues with the appropriate authorities at national and state level and at the next EU/India Human Rights Dialogue.

We are committed to working with the Government of India and international partners to address the problem of gender-based violence, human trafficking and child exploitation in India.

Waste Management

Question

Asked by Baroness Eaton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what products make up the largest proportion of household residual waste; and what progress has been made to reduce those.[HL4911]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): According to a detailed compositional assessment for municipal residual waste and recycling streams in England for 2006-07, published on Defra’s website, the largest three categories of kerbside residual waste were food, plastics and paper. Together these accounted for 58% of kerbside residual waste. An updated assessment for 2010-11 will be published shortly. The Government have developed a range of measures to reduce residual waste that goes to landfill: for example landfill tax and statutory packaging recycling targets for specific materials, including plastics, paper and glass.

Working with retailers and manufacturers, we are reducing food waste through the Courtauld commitment, helping households waste less and save money through the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, and clearing up confusion with our date-labelling guidance.

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA55

Western Sahara

Question

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support measures proposed by the United Nations Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, aimed at securing a resolution to the ongoing conflict in that region.[HL4869]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We strongly support UN-led efforts to encourage Morocco and the Polisario Front to agree a long-lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. The UK plays an active part in the discussions in the UN Security Council on Western Sahara to support this process.

Ministers regularly discuss Western Sahara with their Moroccan counterparts, and officials visit both Moroccan-administered Western Sahara and the Tindouf refugee camps on a regular basis. In all these contacts we emphasise our support for UN Secretary-General’s special envoy, Ambassador Ross, and the UN-led efforts to reach a solution

5 Feb 2013 : Column WA56

Zimbabwe

Question

Asked by Lord Chidgey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assurances they have been given by the African Union and Southern African Development Community, as guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, concerning access by international observation and monitoring missions for the forthcoming constitutional referendum and subsequent elections in Zimbabwe. [HL5049]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We strongly support the role that the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) have played as guarantors of the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe. We have had a number of discussions with both the AU and SADC where we have made clear the importance that we attach to robust long-term international observation missions within this context. The AU and SADC are considering these issues carefully. We will stay in close contact and seek further assurances as appropriate.

The Deputy Prime Minister, my right honourable Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr Clegg), plans to visit the region shortly and to discuss this issue further with both AU and SADC representatives.