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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) Equipment Plan contains provision for a capability sustainment programme for our attack helicopters, to sustain the capability until 2040. We do not routinely publish costs for projects that have not passed their main investment provision. I am withholding the information as its disclosure would prejudice our commercial interests.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 23 January (WA 209-10), what is the major point of illegal entry by asylum seekers first registered in Greece; what is their estimate of how many asylum seekers access the United Kingdom by that route annually; and what measure and time scale they will use to decide whether Greece is compliant with the European Court of Human Rights' decision on reception conditions for asylum seekers for the purposes of resuming transfers under the Dublin regulation.[HL5058]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): We monitor the routes of illegal migrants to the EU via the Frontex Risk Analysis Network, which publishes quarterly reports on the trends and movements of illegal immigrants to the EU. It is evident from their reports that the major point of entry to the EU in the past has been via the Greek land border with Turkey.
According to the European Commission's 2011 annual report on EURODAC, there were 195 fingerprint matches in 2011 from asylum seekers who have entered the EU illegally via Greece. We think this is a low figure and have raised the issue with the Commission. It will never be possible to say exactly how many asylum seekers transit Greece en route to the UK but we believe the numbers to be significant. This is why the Government are committed to helping Greece improve the recording of fingerprints as part of its wider support for Greece in building its border security and migration management capability.
We are actively supporting Greece to build capacity and implement reforms to its asylum system. However, due to the strict austerity measures in place in Greece we feel that it will still take some time to rectify. We,
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what were their reasons for moving from a citizenship test with a practical focus to one which is based more on history; and what is the purpose of the new citizenship test.[HL5119]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The life in the UK test is one of the ways in which migrants can satisfy the requirement that they demonstrate knowledge of language and life in the United Kingdom. It is taken by migrants applying for indefinite leave to remain or for naturalisation as British citizens.
Unlike the previous test, migrants will not be expected to answer questions on matters such as population statistics that are not generally familiar to the British public, but study of the book will still be necessary to ensure a pass. All the information for the test is in the handbook.
Increasingly, migrants are required to have five years' residence before applying for permanent status in the UK. They should already be aware of practical aspects of life in the UK. The book therefore concentrates on British history, culture, traditions and systems of government to help migrants gain a wider understanding of British democratic principles and the responsibilities that come with permanent residence.
The Government are aware of the comments on the new test from the Migrants' Rights Network but consider that the new test will help migrants acquire the wider knowledge that will help them understand the society in which they have chosen to live.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many non-domestic hereditaments would, under a deferral of the rating revaluation, face changes in business rates liability in the billing year 2015-16 compared to what would have been paid had the 2015 revaluation occurred, of (1) an increase greater than 20%, (2) an increase of between 10% and 20%, (3) an increase of between 5% and 10%, and (4) a decrease, broken down by (a) category, and (b) billing authority. [HL5022]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Valuation Office Agency published its high-level estimates of the impacts of a revaluation in 2015 on 12 November 2012. Its analysis suggests that around 800,000 premises would have seen a real terms increase in their rates at a 2015 revaluation compared with around 300,000 seeing a decrease. The report includes a breakdown of the potential impact on tax paid by property sector and part of the country. It is not possible to produce a full, detailed estimate of the impacts of a 2015 revaluation without going through the full revaluation procedure costing about £43 million of public money.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to secure agreement across public services to the use of a single identifying reference number for children to enable better co-ordination of services that meet their individual needs.[HL5053]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): The Department for Education is currently concentrating its efforts on improving the links between our existing identifiers, and related identifiers in other departments. The aim is to enable more efficient sharing of data where beneficial, appropriate and in line with the Data Protection Act and Office of the Information Commissioner advice.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of self-immolations by protestors in Tibet; when they last raised the issue of self-immolations with the Government of China, and what was their response; and whether they have information about the situation in Bhora, eastern Tibet, following the self-immolation and funeral of Kunchok Kyab.[HL4905]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We remain concerned about the large numbers of self-immolations that have occurred in Tibetan areas since March 2011 and about the human rights situation in Tibet. We believe that as of 30 January there have been 97 immolations, of which 48 have not been confirmed by official state media. At least 80 of those incidents are believed to have led to the death of the individual. We most recently raised concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet with the Chinese authorities at senior official level on 21 December.
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, urging the Chinese authorities to make every effort to resume meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama's representatives as the best way to achieve a long-term solution to underlying tensions. This statement also urged Tibetans not to resort to extreme forms of protest such as self-immolation, and urged their community and religious leaders to use their influence to stop this tragic loss of life.
We are aware of reports that Kunchok Kyab self-immolated near Bora Monastery in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on 22 January, and of allegations that Tibetans were barred from holding funeral rites for him. Our diplomats visited Gannan several times in 2012, most recently in December, but it has not been possible to verify these reports. Foreigners continue to encounter periodic restrictions on access to parts of Gannan, other Tibetan areas and the Tibetan Autonomous Region. We continue to urge the Chinese Government to lift all such restrictions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to continue after April 2013 with the 50% council tax discount on a second home owned by a person who is obliged to live in a dwelling provided by the employer as a necessary part of the performance of that person's duties.[HL5147]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): From 1 April 2013, billing authorities in England will be able to charge between 50% and 100% council tax on properties that are considered to be second homes. The job-related second homes discount of 50%, where someone has to live in a dwelling because of his or her job, will be unaffected.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what procedures are in place to measure local authorities' adherence to government guidance concerning the provision of funds from the Disabled Facilities Grant. [HL5070]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Non-statutory guidance was last produced in 2006 under the previous Administration and is now out of date. The Disabled Facilities Grant Best Practice Guidance is due to be published later this year by the Homes Adaptations Consortium. It will draw on examples of excellence and best practice to highlight innovative and cost effective ways of delivering adaptations to help disabled people lead independent lives. This Government do not and will not impose monitoring procedures. We have a clear policy to reduce Whitehall interference and monitoring.
Baroness Hanham: The links below from the archived Department for Communities and Local Government website provide details of the allocations for Disabled Facilities Grant made available, broken down by local authority in each of the past five years.
The Disabled Facilities Grant funding is unringfenced, which provides local authorities with greater freedom and flexibility in delivering adaptations. Local authorities have a statutory duty to implement adaptations under the Disabled Facilities Grant.2012-13http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/2 1 12607.pdf2011-12http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/1856287.xls2010-11http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/1527188.xls2009-10http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/1527188.xls2008-09http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/dfgallocations2008-09.xls
DCLG has secured £725 million for the grant in the 2010 spending review for the period 2011-12 to 2014-15. In 2011-12 the annual allocation for the grant rose to £180 million, an increase of £11 million compared to the 2010-11 budget of £169 million. The allocation for the grant will increase further to £185 million by the end of the spending review (2014-15). In January 2012, the Government invested an extra £20 million for the Disabled Facilities Grant bringing the total grant in 2011-12 to £200 million.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): In England and Wales, police use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is an operational matter for individual police forces, within the regulations set by the Civil Aviation Authority. Information is not collected centrally about their use.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, based on the latest estimates of local gross value added (GVA) per capita, what are (1) the areas with the 10 highest figures of GVA per capita in the United Kingdom, and (2) the areas with the 10 lowest figures of GVA per capita in the United Kingdom; for each area, what is the cash value of GVA in current prices; and, in each case, what that represents as a percentage of the United Kingdom average GVA per capita in that year.[HL5166]
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning the latest estimates of local gross value added (GVA) per capita: what are (1) the areas with the 10 highest figures of GVA per capita in the United Kingdom, and (2) the areas with the 10 lowest figures of GVA per capita in the United Kingdom; for each area, what is the cash value of GVA in current prices; and, in each case, what that represents as a percentage of the United Kingdom average GVA per capita in that year? (HL5166)
The table in Annex A shows Gross Value Added (GVA) per head for the NUTS3 local areas with the highest and lowest values. Data are for 2011, the latest year for which these estimates are available. The table also shows the percentage that each local area represents in relation to the United Kingdom GVA per head figure for that year.
|10 highest and 10 lowest NUTS3 local areas by GVA per head, 2011|
|£ per head||% of UK GVA per head|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): We expect that all children should achieve five good GCSEs. That is, essentially, what secondary schools are there to do, and the means by which they are held to account.
At a national level, 94% of pupils who achieved above minimum expectations at Key Stage 2 in 2012 went on to achieve five or more good GCSEs, including English and mathematics. This means that 6% of pupils who were performing well at the end of Key Stage 2 did not make at least expected progress. That is 10,592 pupils. This is not good enough, which is why we have in place a number of measures that both
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Good schools keep track of their pupils' attainment to ensure they are heading in the right direction and to identify any problems early on. The department has made £50 million available each year to fund summer schools to help disadvantaged pupils make a good transition from primary to secondary school. This is because high-performing disadvantaged pupils at Key Stage 2 are less likely to attain five good GCSEs than their peers.
The Government's accountability regime is also designed to focus schools on raising standards. We have made performance tables more informative and we have brought in tougher but fairer floor standards for secondary schools, setting a minimum expectation for attainment and progression. The Government trust school leaders to make those improvements without direct intervention from the state. Where schools fail to meet those expectations, we do not hesitate to intervene with tailored solutions for each school.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the distribution in United Kingdom schools of the European Commission pamphlet Ten Years of the Euro-10 Success Stories; and whether they have made representations to schools regarding the suitability of that publication for use in schools under the duty to maintain political impartiality.[HL4590]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): We have made no such assessment or representation on the Commission's pamphlet. Section 406 of the Education Act 1996 requires head teachers, governing bodies and local authorities to forbid the pursuit of partisan political activities by pupils and the promotion of partisan political views on the teaching of any subject in the school. Section 407 also provides that, where political views are brought to the attention of pupils, they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views. We trust schools to use teaching materials that suit their pupils' needs. At the same time we expect that the teaching of any issue in schools should be consistent with the principles of balance and objectivity.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Government's position on the multiple locations of the European Parliament is well known from the coalition programme for government: we are in favour of a single seat. However, any change to current arrangements would require treaty change. When the time comes to consider broader proposals for reform, tackling the waste that the two seats of the European Parliament leads to should be considered.
An exception was made in January 2012 when a monthly payment to the facilities management contractor Interserve FM of £3,576 was agreed. This was to cover the loss of business to the catering contractor at the restaurant in the Old Admiralty Building (OAB) during the Olympics and the ongoing reduction of staff numbers as the FCO vacates the building.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 28 January (HL4729), whether the Information Commissioner's guidance relating to private e-mail accounts has been applied at the Department for Transport; and, if so, whether it will publish its policy on the use of private e-mail for public business.[HL5010]
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport applies the Information Commissioner's guidance relating to information held in private e-mail accounts. We have published guidance for staff to follow. The department discourages the use of private e-mail accounts for official work and expects official work information to be stored on properly secure networks.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Statement by Earl Howe on 31 January, by what means they will achieve any reduction in the number
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The decision announced by the Secretary of State on 31 January about the future of South London Healthcare NHS Trust and its services means that Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust will have a smaller accident and emergency (A&E) service. It will be able to admit patients with a wide range of less serious conditions for a temporary period. A notice of the Secretary of State's decision is available at: www.dh.gov.uk/health/2013/01/slht-decision/.
It is estimated that the new service could continue to treat around three out of four patients now treated at Lewisham's A&E department. The service will be networked with an advanced system of emergency care across south-east London so that around 25% of patients with potentially life-threatening conditions will be likely to be seen at one of four A&E departments providing specialist inpatient emergency care. Having 24/7 senior emergency medical cover at Lewisham hospital will also help to provide the right diagnostic expertise quickly for patients who attend the hospital but who need to be transferred to one of the four specialist A&E sites.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Ministers will be meeting representatives of Prostate Cancer UK to discuss its report entitled Value-Based Pricing: Getting it Right for People with Cancer. [HL5066]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Ministers currently have no plans to meet Prostate Cancer UK. However, following the consultation, A New Value-Based Approach to the Pricing of Branded Medicines, a copy of which has already been placed in the Library, 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.
Earl Howe: The Cancer Drugs Fund was launched on 1 April 2011. Over three years, the fund is providing £200 million a year to help cancer patients access the drugs their clinicians believe will help them. As an
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We want to find a way in which patients who would benefit from drugs provided through the Cancer Drugs Fund can continue to do so, at a cost that represents value to the National Health Service, after the fund comes to an end.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many former school teachers in England have died of mesothelioma during the past 10 years. (HL5165)
The table attached provides the number of deaths where the underlying cause was mesothelioma, for school teachers (secondary, primary and nursery, and special needs) in England from 2002 to 2011 (the latest year available).
The occupation of the deceased is based on information provided by the informant at death registration. If the deceased had more than one occupation during their lifetime, the informant may choose to state the main occupation or the last known occupation. Alternatively the informant may state that the deceased was not working or was retired. In the figures provided, it is not possible to identify whether the deceased was a current or a former school teacher at the time of death.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publishes regular reports on mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease incidence and mortality, which include information on estimates of the future burden of deaths caused by mesothelioma in Great Britain. Further information is available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/asbestos.htm.
|Table 1-Number of deaths where the underlying cause was mesothelioma, for school teachers in England, 2002 to 2011. 1,2,3,4|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department collects and publishes information on waits for admission through accident and emergency (A&E) departments on a weekly basis. The latest data for National Health Service trusts in Essex are shown in the following table.
|A&E weekly activity statistics, NHS organisations in Essex: week ending 27.01.2013|
|Provider name||Emergency Admissions via Type 1 A&E||Number of patients spending >4 hours but <12 hours from decision to admit to admission||Number of patients spending >12 hours from decision to admit to admission|
Information is not collected on waiting times for admission to hospital beds for non-emergency treatment. The department collects monthly non-emergency consultant-led referral to treatment (RTT) waiting times data, which cover the whole of the patient pathway from referral to a consultant-led service to first definitive treatment. The NHS Operating Framework for 2012-13 requires individual NHS organisations to ensure that 90% of admitted patients and 95% of non-admitted patients start their treatment within a maximum of 18 weeks of referral, and that 92% of patients on an incomplete RTT pathway should have been waiting no more than 18 weeks.
|Monthly referral to treatment waiting times for completed admitted pathways (on an adjusted basis) for NHS trusts in Essex: November 2012|
|Provider Name||Average (median) waiting time (in weeks)||% within 18 weeks|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the impact of the Emmaus Communities on the annual finances of (1) central, and (2) local, government; and whether they will assist the development of new communities by providing redundant buildings, sites or low-interest loans. [HL5101]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): We are aware of the work of Emmaus across England and the assistance they offer to people who have been homeless but have no plans to commission an estimate of the impact of its communities. Emmaus Burnley was provided with capital funding of £1,000,000 under the Homes and Communities Places of Change programme to develop 24 units of accommodation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their anticipated expenditure on the new homes bonus in (1) 2013-14, (2) 2014-15, and (3) 2015-16; and what are the corresponding Barnett formula consequential allocations to be made to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in each of those years.[HL5040]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Expenditure on the new homes bonus in 2013-14 will be £668.3 million. As the bonus is paid for six years, £668.3 million is therefore already committed to be spent in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, to which will be added an additional amount reflecting increases in effective housing stock for those years. Actual figures will depend on delivery in increasing housing stock, the council tax banding of new stock, and decisions on council tax levels made by local authorities. It is not therefore possible to make an assessment of expenditure on new homes bonus for those years.
In the current spending review period £950 million was set aside to fund the new homes bonus. This amount was funded from within my department's spending review settlement. Any funding requirement beyond that amount is taken from the local government settlement. The Barnett formula has already been applied to all of this funding, so no further consequential allocations are due.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Policing at St Pancras comes under the British Transport Police's jurisdiction. The British Transport Police attend quarterly industry led meetings with Eurostar, at which control authority issues such as child trafficking are discussed. Paladin is a Metropolitan Police led operational team and stakeholder engagement is handled by the British Transport Police.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 30 January (WA 335), what are the daily fees paid to the chairman and members of the Chilcot inquiry. [HL5127]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their forecast of the number of migrants who will enter the United Kingdom from (1) Bulgaria, and (2) Romania, when barriers to citizens of those countries working across the European Union are lifted on 1 January 2014.[HL4966]
The Home Office regularly monitors and analyses overall migration data to help inform policy decisions. However, we have not prepared forecasts of likely inflows from Romania and Bulgaria once restrictions are lifted. The Government accept the view of the independent Migration Advisory Committee that to produce such estimates "would not be sensible, or helpful to policymakers".
Rather than produce speculative forecasts, the Government's priority is to cut out abuse of free movement and address pull factors such as access to benefits and public services. The Home Office is working closely with other government departments on these issues.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The annual workforce census shows the number of general practitioners working in the National Health Service in England at 30 September each year. The latest data available are for 2011. The following table shows the number of general practitioners working in each strategic health authority at 30 September 2011.
|All General Medical Practitioners by SHA in England: full time equivalent as at 30 September 2011|
|England||Full time equivalent|
|All GPs (excluding retainers and registrars)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many incidents of piracy against United Kingdom-bound ships in the Indian Ocean have occurred over the past five years; and, of those, how many were British-registered ships.[HL5124]
In terms of piracy incidents against UK flagged vessels, there have been two successful hijacks of UK flagged merchant vessels in the past five years-the
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In relation to unsuccessful incidences of piracy, the data collated and monitored by Her Majesty's Government are categorised by incident on a global scale. Since the change in government policy in December 2011 to recognise the use of armed guards as an option to protect life on UK flagged ships, the UK has required, through the Department for Transport (DfT) guidance, any incident of a discharge of a firearm on a UK flagged vessel to be reported. The DfT has received no such reports.
Overall, incidences of piracy in the Indian Ocean have dropped significantly to just 35 in 2012 from a yearly average of 171. The number of vessels seized in 2012 fell by over 80% compared to the previous year.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The National Planning Policy Framework sets out planning policy on viability at paragraph 173. This states that, to ensure viability, "the costs of any requirements likely to be applied to development, such as requirements for affordable housing, standards, infrastructure contributions or other requirements should, when taking account of the normal cost of development and mitigation, provide competitive returns to a willing land owner and willing developer to enable the development to be deliverable".
To ask Her Majesty's Government which local planning authorities have adopted policies and charging schedules for the Community Infrastructure Levy; and which have policies and schedules that are in the process of examination.[HL5160]
Baroness Hanham: The Planning Inspectorate publishes a list of areas that have submitted charging schedules for examination, including details of the date when the charging schedules come into effect. This can be found on the Planning Portal website at: http://www. planningportal.gov.uk/planning/appeals/otherappeals casework/cilexamschedules.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 17 November 2010 (WA 213), what payments were made to Public Interest Lawyers by the Ministry of Defence in the past three years.[HL4867]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): A precise answer for the full period in question could only be provided at disproportionate cost. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) did however pay Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) at least £4.7 million from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2012. This included reimbursement of PIL's legal costs and, where awarded, damages in judicial review and compensation claims brought in the U K domestic courts and in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on behalf of individuals from Iraq and Afghanistan; and, indirectly, payments to PIL for work in connection with the Baha Mousa inquiry and the al-Sweady inquiry which are funded by the MoD.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The UK Border Force has regular meetings with Eurostar. Formal meetings are held at least monthly with more regular contact as operational needs require, this includes daily liaison. The subject of unaccompanied minors is discussed at meetings as appropriate. In addition, a quarterly strategic meeting is also held between senior Eurostar directors and the Border Force regional director.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the termination of the Great Western franchise competition, whether they expect to pay compensation to companies that had previously worked on bids; if so, what is the expected level of any payments; and to which companies they will be paid.[HL5187]
Earl Attlee: In keeping with the relevant invitations to tender, which made clear that bidders are responsible for their own costs, the Government do not believe it would be appropriate to reimburse bidders.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Earl Attlee on 28 January concerning the HS2 project (Official Report, col. 1342), what is their best forecast of the final cost of the project in real terms.[HL5215]
Earl Attlee: When the Government announced their decision to proceed with HS2 in January 2012, the construction costs were estimated at around £16.3 billion for phase 1, and around £16.4 billion for phase 2 (2011 prices). Having received advice on route options from HS2 Ltd, the cost of the Government's initial preferred route, station and depot options for phase 2, published on 28 January 2013, is now estimated at around £16.8 billion, without the spur to Heathrow (if the spur is included the costs for phase 2 would rise to around £18.2 billion). Further information is available in the Command Paper High Speed Rail, Investing in Britain's Future, Phase 2: Leeds, Manchester, and Beyond.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Maintenance of services during periods of severe weather is a matter for the service provider.
On 26 October 2012, the Department of Health published the 2012 Cold Weather Plan. The Cold Weather Plan is designed to help raise awareness of the dangers of cold weather on health with both the general public and professionals alike and to galvanise and focus efforts by local authorities, the NHS and partners in the voluntary and community sector.
The plan sets out a series of clear actions to minimise the health impact of severe winter weather to be taken by the NHS, social care and other public agencies and advice for people who interact with those most at risk from cold weather.
Significant efforts have been made this year across the transport sectors, including road, rail and aviation, to boost resilience and preparedness for any winter weather we may encounter. The Department for Transport continues to work closely with all key transport operators, the local government sector, salt suppliers and other
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The Government are providing more then £3 billion to councils across England for road maintenance between 2011 and 2015. In December 2012, the Government also announced an additional £215 million for local road maintenance over the next two years to 2015.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): We are very disappointed that the National Union of Teachers (NUT) is stating that strikes are inevitable and is already pursuing action short of a strike with the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT). Industrial action disrupts pupils' education, hugely inconveniences parents and damages the teaching profession's reputation in the eyes of the public. It is not a constructive way for organisations representing professionals to achieve their objectives.
We have asked what the NUT and NASUWT would like us to do to bring the current dispute to an end. Unfortunately their answers have been unclear and conflicting. We understand the main reasons for this dispute are concerns about pay and conditions of employment. Our pay reforms are based on recommendations of the independent School Teachers' Review Body. The proposed changes will give schools greater autonomy and more freedom to decide how much they pay a teacher and how quickly pay progresses.
While we respect the right of teachers to take industrial action, we are focused on doing all we can to help schools minimise its impact. We have published advice setting out the flexibilities schools have at their disposal to stay open in the event of a strike. We are considering how we can extend these flexibilities, based on suggestions we have received from head teachers, which would make it easier for them to keep their schools open.
We have also recently published advice on the NUT and NASUWT industrial action, which advises employers on how to make pay deductions if teachers are in breach of their contract. We will support any individual school that is taking a robust stance against industrial action and acting in a lawful and proportionate way.
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