13 Feb 2013 : Column WA153

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Written Answers

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Armed Conflict: Rape

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 28 January (WA 261), whether there are any circumstances in which their agencies would not seek to ensure that women raped during armed conflict are given access to safe abortions, in situations where abortions are in breach of national law but where the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life.[HL5284]

Baroness Northover: In conflict situations UK-funded medical care is provided through humanitarian organisations. These organisations work according to humanitarian principles including the provision of non-discriminatory aid, provided according to need and need alone.

In conflict situations where denial of abortion in accordance with a national law prohibition would threaten the woman’s or girl’s life or cause unbearable suffering, international humanitarian law principles may justify offering an abortion rather than perpetuating what amounts to inhumane treatment in the form of an act of cruel treatment or torture. Clearly this will depend on the woman’s choice, her condition and the safety and security of the humanitarian staff, as well as other contextual factors.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what threshold they apply to the provision of abortions in contravention of national law to women raped during armed conflict; and whether that threshold is higher than those applied to other forms of assistance to the wounded and sick during armed conflicts. [HL5285]

Baroness Northover: In conflict situations UK-funded medical care is provided through humanitarian organisations. These organisations work according to humanitarian principles including the provision of non-discriminatory aid, provided according to need and need alone.

In conflict situations where denial of abortion in accordance with a national law prohibition would threaten the woman’s or girl’s life or cause unbearable suffering, international humanitarian law principles may justify offering an abortion rather than perpetuating what amounts to inhumane treatment in the form of an act of cruel treatment or torture. Clearly this will depend on the woman’s choice, her condition and the safety and security of the humanitarian staff, as well as other contextual factors.

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Armed Forces: Defence Cuts

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of Ministry of Defence cuts on the ability of the United Kingdom to maintain special forces at the required level.[HL5111]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Strategic Defence and Security Review made clear the long-term importance the Government attach to the special forces. The Ministry of Defence’s future plans reflect that importance. In keeping with the long-standing policy of this and previous Governments I will not provide further detail on special forces funding.

Bahrain

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Bahrain about the deprivation of citizenship of 31 persons; and whether they will grant asylum to those of the 31 who make such applications to the United Kingdom.[HL5183]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We have made clear to various interlocutors in the Bahraini Government our view that revoking citizenship, which leaves individuals stateless, is a negative step and ultimately a barrier towards reconciliation.

We urge the authorities to conduct full and transparent investigations into any of those accused of crimes. Any charges against these individuals should be based on strong, credible evidence that will stand up to scrutiny.

All asylum claims are considered on their individual merits, in line with our international obligations, but we do not routinely comment on individual cases.

Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will encourage and support the Bank of England to establish a renminbi currency swap with the People’s Bank of China to support London’s development as a centre for trading renminbi.[HL5092]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The Government are supporting the private sector led development of the international renminbi (RMB) market in London, with the objective of establishing London as the western hub for RMB business.

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Agreeing swap lines with other central banks is a matter for the Bank of England, which has said it is ready, in principle, to agree a swap line with the People’s Bank of China, assuming a mutually agreeable format can be identified. The Government welcome this development.

Banks: Funding for Lending Scheme

Questions

Asked by Lord Barnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the (1) shortest, (2) longest, and (3) average, time taken between an application for an investment guarantee and the date a contract was signed under the Funding for Lending Scheme.[HL5102]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) offers funding to banks and building societies for an extended period. The scheme encourages participating banks and building societies to supply more credit by making more and cheaper funding available if they lend more.

There is no mechanical link between FLS funds and particular loans made by a participant. It is, therefore, not possible to identify specific loans as funded by the FLS. The scheme does not provide investment guarantees.

Asked by Lord Barnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many applications have been received under the Funding for Lending Scheme; what was the total value; what was the smallest amount applied for; and what was the largest.[HL5103]

Lord Deighton: The Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) offers funding to banks and building societies for an extended period. It encourages them to supply more credit by making more and cheaper funding available if they lend more.

There is no mechanical link between FLS funds and particular loans made by a participant. It is, therefore, not possible to identify individual loans funded by the FLS.

Banks: Green Investment Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect the United Kingdom Green Investment Bank will commence raising additional private capital to supplement the initial injections of public funds. [HL5222]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): Mobilising substantial additional private sector investment is a key operating principle of the UK Green Investment Bank (UK GIB) and we fully

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expect its initial £3 billion funding to result in significant additional private funds being attracted into the sectors in which it invests. With £3 billion to 2015, the bank is being amply funded so that it will not need to borrow in the short to medium term.

Benefits: Internet Access

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what requirements for privacy are in place for benefit claimants who are being trained or assisted in making their claims while using computer facilities at job centres, libraries and other locations.[HL5289]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): JSA online allows people to make claims online from the privacy of their own home or from any other internet access point. For people who are unable to access online services, internet access devices (IADs) are provided within most Jobcentres. They provide a secure environment for people to make claims to benefit or search for a job. Jobcentre staff will be happy to support people to utilise these facilities.

Benefits: Motability Schemes

Questions

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people who lose their eligibility for Motability support they anticipate will appeal to tribunals; and whether they will publish the legal advice they have sought on whether the sequestration of vehicles and removal of financial support made available under the scheme will be open to challenge in the courts and liable to judicial review.[HL5170]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how long Motability support for disabled people, including the provision of vehicles, will continue once appeals have been lodged; how soon after the lodging of an appeal will vehicles be sequestrated; which companies will be used to take back disabled people’s vehicles; how many vehicles they expect to be reclaimed; and what will happen to the sequestrated vehicles. [HL5171]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Department for Work and Pensions staff currently handle Motability appeals; what is the average time it takes to deal with a Motability appeal, from the time it is lodged until its conclusion; how many extra staff are being recruited to assist with appeal claims from disabled people facing the loss of Motability; and what is the per capita annual remuneration for tribunal members and the anticipated extra annual cost of the tribunals which deal with Motability appeals.[HL5172]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Eligibility for the Motability scheme is through entitlement to the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA). When personal independence payment (PIP)

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is introduced, eligibility will be extended to include recipients of the enhanced mobility component of PIP. Based on our experiences with DLA and employment and support allowance, and following a PIP decision being made, we are expecting an appeal rate of 12.5% for new claims and 40% for reassessed cases.

Once PIP legislation is in place, any consequence of a failure to meet the entitlement conditions for the enhanced mobility component would not result in a judicial review as long as the legislation was applied fairly to the claimant. We have robust dispute resolution procedures in place to ensure that this is the case.

As an independent charity, Motability is wholly responsible for the administration of the Motability scheme, including setting policy on the recovery of vehicles. We are continuing to work closely with Motability to understand what impact the introduction of PIP might have on its customer numbers and to ensure the smooth introduction of PIP as it relates to users of the Motability scheme.

The information requested regarding Motability appeals is unavailable. Appeals are made against the benefit award and not with respect to any passports which may flow from it. The management information routinely collected and held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on appeals does not enable us to identify the types of decisions disputed. We could only obtain this information at disproportionate cost.

Likewise, the management information held by the DWP regarding staffing data only enables us to identify DLA appeals activity as a whole and not by types of decision disputed.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service does not hold costs by benefit type within the tribunals. The following link provides general information on judicial salaries and fees: http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/corporate- reports/moj/2012/judicial-salaries-and-fees-2012-13.

Children: Poverty

Question

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the proportion of children living in poverty with at least one parent addicted to (1) drugs, and (2) alcohol.[HL5225]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government do not have an assessment of the number of children living in poverty with at least one parent addicted to drugs or alcohol. Drug or alcohol use is not recorded on the survey used for UK poverty national statistics.

In public polling conducted as part of the consultation on better measurement of child poverty (available at http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2013/public%20_views_on_child_poverty.pdf), the factor the most respondents felt was important or very important in deciding whether or not a child was growing up in poverty was having parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

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Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 5 February (WA 31–2) stating that the statistical model used for global temperatures was a linear trend with first-order autoregressive noise, what is their assessment of the likelihood of that model relative to a driftless third-order autoregressive integrated model.[HL5359]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answers I gave on 5 February (Official Report, col. WA31-2) and 14 January 2013 (Official Report, col. WA 110) on climate change and the subject of statistical models.

My officials would be willing to arrange a meeting with you to discuss statistical models for assessing observed global temperature time series.

Companies: New Companies

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the number of companies that started trading in England in each of the past five years. [HL5155]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): Companies House does record how many companies it registers each year and the number of those companies that subsequently file dormant (non-trading) accounts for their first accounting period. From this an approximate number of the companies that start trading in a year can be estimated.

The number of companies that were registered and that subsequently filed dormant accounts in each of the last five years is as follows:

YearCompanies IncorporatedSubsequently filed dormant accounts

2008

290,041

61,195 (approx 21%)

2009

301,388

64,500 (approx 21.5%)

2010

331,960

68,672 (approx 20.5%)

2011

376,514

*

2012

397,274

*

No figures have been given for the boxes marked with an asterisk as Companies House cannot yet provide meaningful figures for these years. All private limited companies (the vast majority of companies on the register) have a maximum of 21 months following incorporation to file accounts, and only an unrepresentative number of companies incorporated in 2011 and 2012 have filed accounts so far. However, based on the earlier figures Companies House believes that it would be reasonable to estimate that approximately 20-21% of those companies will file dormant accounts for their first accounting period.

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We would warn that a proportion of companies will file dormant accounts for more than one year following trading. Therefore, any assessment of companies that started trading in a given year can be only a rough estimate.

Companies: Red Tape

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to reduce red tape for new companies. [HL5154]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): One of the central aims of the Government’s Plan for Growth is reducing the burden of regulation on business. We have already achieved a great deal in this area, benefiting both new companies and established businesses.

We have introduced a microbusiness moratorium under which no new regulations will be imposed on the smallest businesses until 2014, unless there is a special justification.

We have also capped and are reducing the total burden of regulation on all businesses. The One-in, One out rule, under which any increase in regulation must be at least matched by a reduction elsewhere, has saved business around £836 million. From 1 January 2013 we moved to a One-In, Two-Out rule whereby departments must find double the savings. We are also are getting rid of unnecessary regulation altogether: through the Red Tape Challenge we have committed to scrap or improve at least 3,000 of 6,500 substantive regulations in scope, and to identify these by December 2013. Measures already implemented are saving businesses over £155 million per year, with many further savings not yet quantified. Reforms that benefit new companies include the online Taking on an Employee toolkit, which takes employers through the process of hiring their first member of staff and explains their core legal obligations when doing so.

We also know that effective enforcement of regulation on the ground is vital to new and small companies. Our Focus on Enforcement reviews are improving the enforcement of regulations and reducing associated burdens on industry. Access to proportionate appeals is very important to small businesses, and we have just launched a review of regulators’ appeals processes.

And we are working hard with the EU Commission to hold them to account on commitments to reduce the burdens of European legislation. For example, we reached agreement in March 2012 to exempt small businesses from certain EU accounting rules, with UK backing. This will benefit up to 1.4 million UK small businesses and result in EU savings for business of up to €3.5 billion per year.

The Autumn Statement sets out how we will build on these successes to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses. This includes a commitment by HM Treasury to make the tax system clearer and more efficient, reducing the annual cost to business of tax administration by £250 million by March 2015.

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EU: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the total funding from the European Union received by each United Kingdom region over the past five years; and how much matching investment has been required by the United Kingdom in order to access those funds.[HL5126]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): The nature of the EU funding that the UK receives varies from fund to fund. Some funds are allocated to the UK, while for others beneficiaries will apply direct to the European Commission. As such the Government do not have data on the total EU funding received by the UK or its constituent regions. The information available is set out in Annex A and is based on the main sources of EU funding that the UK receives:

European Regional Development Fund (2007-2013) (Table 1);European Social Fund (2007-2013) (Table 2);Seventh European Framework Programme for R&D (FP7) (2007-2012) (Table 3);European Fisheries Fund (EFF) (2007-2013) (Table 4);Common Agricultural Policy (Pillar 1 and rural development) (2008-2012) (Table 5); andCompetitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013)

Match funding rates:

European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and European Fisheries Fund vary according to individual programme, with 75% match of EU funding available to support a project in convergence regions (Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, Highlands and Islands, Lowlands and Uplands and West Wales and the Valleys. For other areas of the UK (termed competitiveness and employment regions) 50% match of EU Funding is available; throughout the UK Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme match is 60%;throughout the UK the Common Agricultural Policy (Pillar 1 and rural development) rates for national co-financing depend on the programmes; andSeventh European Framework Programme for R&D for research and technological development activities the EU upper funding contribution across the UK is limited to 75% of project costs for academia and SMEs, and 50% for industry.

Annex A

EU funding breakdown

Structural Funds—ERDF and ESF Programmes.

The figures in the tables show the total allocations for each programme in the UK, the EU funding allocation and the indicative match funding required from other sources in order to maximise the EU funding. The allocations are in euro, so they have been converted into indicative £sterling amounts using the exchange rate £1=€1.1844 (planning rate for 2012).

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Table 1—ERDF Programmes 2007-13 in sterling (£)
TitleTotalERDFMatch funding required

Competitiveness and Employment




South East England

40,031,028

20,015,514

20,015,514

East of England

232,410,931

93,713,880

138,697,052

North East of England

634,412,226

317,206,113

317,206,113

London

322,937,378

153,570,764

169,366,614

West Midlands

675,278,504

337,639,252

337,639,252

North West England

1,276,181,376

638,090,688

638,090,688

Yorkshire and Humberside

985,445,726

492,722,863

492,722,863

East Midlands

453,387,340

226,693,670

226,693,670

South West England

210,499,976

105,249,988

105,249,988

Total England Comp & Emp ERDF

4,830,584,487

2,384,902,732

2,445,681,754

Convergence




Cornwall & Isles of Scilly

565,193,646

386,741,485

178,452,161

Total England Convergence ERDF

565,193,646

386,741,485

178,452,161

Northern Ireland ERDF Sustainable Competitiveness and Employment programme

477,597,837

238,798,918

238,798,918

Highlands and Islands Scotland ERDF Phasing out Convergence programme

245,963,202

102,889,558

143,073,645

Lowlands and Uplands Scotland ERDF Phasing out Convergence programme

768,150,200

317,424,726

450,725,475

West Wales and the Valleys ERDF Convergence programme

1,836,902,633

1,055,706,002

781,196,631

East Wales ERDF Competitiveness and Employment programme

135,032,439

61,171,666

73,860,773

Total Devolved ERDF

3,463,646,312

1,775,990,870

1,687,655,442

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Table 2—ESF Programmes 2007-13 in sterling (£)
TitleTotalESFMatch funding required

Convergence




Cornwall & Isles of Scilly South West ESF Convergence programme

221,134,685

165,851,013

55,283,672

Highlands & Islands Scotland ESF Phasing out Convergence programme

70,272,762

44,030,898

26,241,864

West Wales & the Valleys ESF Convergence programme

1,093,457,905

703,804,002

389,653,903

Total Convergence ESF

1,384,865,352

913,685,913

471,179,439

Competitiveness and Employment




England and Gibraltar Comp & Employment programme

4,885,937,925

2,442,968,962

2,442,968,962

Lowlands & Uplands Scotland ESF Competitiveness and Employment programme

505,221,831

227,896,776

277,325,055

Northern Ireland ESF Regional Competitiveness and Employment programme

349,918,229

139,967,325

209,950,903

Rest of Wales ESF Competitiveness and Employment programme

133,691,002

53,695,924

79,995,079

Total ESF

7,259,634,339

3,778,214,900

3,481,419,439

Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP)

CIP is divided into three operational programmes: the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP); the Information Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP); the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme (IEE).

The UK budget in euros (€) for 2007-2013 for CIP, excluding innovation (these figures are not available), is €1,566.5 million. Breakdown by regions is not available. Figure is rounded to nearest million.

Seventh European Framework Programme for R&D (FP7)

For FP7, the Government have access to the details of signed grant agreements for projects. These data include the total EU funding awarded to each participant in a project consortium as well as the total amount each participant must contribute in match-funding.

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The EU funding awarded will be paid out over the course of a project that will typically last three to four years. The Government do not have access to this payment data and therefore cannot at any point in time say how much has been received by a beneficiary. The periodic release of grant agreement data by the European Commission also does not lend itself to easily identifying awards by calendar year, which means that more analysis than can be done in the time available would be needed to identify the last five years of grant awards from the six years FP7 has been running. The data we do have for grants awarded from the launch of FP7 on 1 January 2007 up to 18 October 2012 (the latest release of grant agreement data) in euros (€) are as follows:

Table 3—Seventh European Framework Programme for R&D in euros (€)
UK regionParticipant EC requested financial contribution € *Participant Project costs €

North East

145,409,835

178,942,333

North West

261,004,409

334,887,319

Yorkshire & The Humber

266,729,517

316,201,411

East Midlands

187,986,305

234,100,370

West Midlands

210,078,842

263,203,818

East of England

510,935,137

611,490,695

London

1,043,931,283

1,281,290,783

South East

794,666,343

1,049,144,458

South West

392,021,862

528,807,759

Wales

97,805,340

120,030,344

Scotland

437,148,996

523,038,804

Northern Ireland

53,426,735

68,619,447

European Fisheries Fund.

The European Fisheries Fund (EFF) provides financial support during the programme period 2007 to 2013, with a view to stimulate the development of an economically profitable and environmentally responsible sector that contributes to the well-being of the population dependant on fisheries. Expenditure under the European Fisheries Fund in the current period (2007-13) is as follows:

Table 4—European Fisheries Fund 2007-2013 in sterling (£)
Convergence / Non-convergenceEuropean Fisheries Fund CommitmentsNational Commitment (1)Other National Commitment (2)Total
£’000£’000£’000£’000

England

Convergence

5,581

1,507

0,742

7,830

Non convergence

21,757

16,506

9,597

47,860

Scotland

Convergence

16,278

3,514

3,032

22,824

Non convergence

25,553

22,228

3,378

51,159

Wales

Convergence

6,624

2,222

0

8,846

Non convergence

0,914

0,914

0

1,828

Northern Ireland

Non convergence

4,958

4,006

0,952

9,916

Total

Convergence / Non-convergence

81,665

50,897

17,701

150,263

Notes:

(1) National commitments are public match sourced from the central government departments e.g. in England this is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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(2) Other national commitments are amounts sourced from other public sources e.g. local authorities.

CAP (Pillar 1 and rural development)

Table 5: UK receipts from the CAP (Pillar 1 and rural development); and UK contribution in euro (€) millions. The figures for rural development ex co-financing are from the EAFRD. Co-financing is the exchequer contribution and Pillar 1 is the EAGF.

Table 5— Pillar 1 & Rural Development in euros (€) millions
2008-12

England

Pillar 1

10,904


Rural development (exc. co-financing)

1,759


Co-financing

887

Wales

Pillar 1

1589


Rural development (exc. co-financing)

190


Co-financing

305

Scotland

Pillar 1

2958


Rural development (exc. co-financing)

463


Co-financing

520

Northern Ireland

Pillar 1

1598


Rural development (exc. co-financing)

166


Co-financing

137

Finance: Financial Services

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they or the Financial Services Authority are investigating possible manipulation of interest rate and foreign exchange reference rates.[HL5093]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): Matters relating to the conduct of financial services firms are a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), whose day-to-day operations are independent from government control and influence.

This question has been passed to the FSA, which will reply directly by letter. A copy of the response will be placed in the Library of the House.

Homelessness

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for Housing, Mark Prisk, on 13 December 2012 (Official Report, Commons, col. 444W), whether the Department for Communities and Local Government paid the London Borough of Newham to host Andy Gale as a homelessness adviser in 2011–12; and if so, how much was paid to him, and which Minister or official approved the contract with the London Borough of Newham.[HL5245]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): As the previous Answer explained, under this and the last Administration, the department has provided grant funding to a number of local authorities to support the provision of advice on preventing homelessness to complement the funding we provide to the voluntary sector.

The London Borough of Newham received a £72,000 grant in 2012, which was intended to meet some of the costs of providing homelessness advice to local authorities in London.

The payment to Newham was made under Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 (the general power to pay grant to local authorities towards expenditure incurred or to be incurred). The grant was unring-fenced and not subject to any conditions. There was no contract either between the department and London Borough of Newham or the department and Andy Gale.

While departmental officials had discussions with Newham about how the grant was to be spent, Ministers in this Administration had no involvement with local authorities on commissioning such services.

House of Lords: Reform

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of their policy that the composition of the House of Lords should reflect the outcome of preceding general elections, they envisage any limit to the size of membership of the House.[HL5095]

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford): I refer the noble Lord to my reply to Lord Howarth of Newport of 6 February 2013 (Official Report, col. 259-60). The Government have no further plans for legislation to reform this House in this Parliament.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether their social housing underoccupancy measures will apply to separated parents who have shared care arrangements and have been allocated an extra bedroom as a result.[HL5262]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The underoccupancy measure does apply to separated parents who have shared care arrangements in both the private and social rented sectors.

Blanket exemptions are not the most effective or affordable approach to targeting resources. We have however made sure that those likely to be affected will be able to get the support and advice that they need.

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There are a number of options available to those affected including, for those that already undertake some work, increasing their hours, or alternatively finding work.

Migrant Workers

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to co-ordinate policies with their partners in the European Union to enable migrants to access social support within the United Kingdom.[HL5266]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The EU has a system of social security co-ordination that provides protection of social security rights for migrant workers. We are in regular dialogue with other member states to ensure that this system is applied correctly for those who have worked and contributed, and that any policy proposals to amend the relevant regulations are focused on entitlements acquired through work and contribution.

We are also working with other member states to define principles for sustainable social security co-ordination in the future which support free movement of workers, but prevent access to welfare by economically inactive migrants.

National Crime Agency

Question

Asked by Lord Rogan

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Northern Ireland Executive concerning the National Crime Agency.[HL5157]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Home Secretary, Home Office Ministers and officials have had a number of meetings and discussions with David Ford, the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, and his officials concerning the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland and legislative consent from the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Government remain committed to delivering a UK-wide crime fighting agency focused on tackling serious, organised and complex crime.

Northern Ireland Parades Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what target has been set for the Northern Ireland Parades Commission to respond to correspondence from MPs and Peers.[HL5255]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): As the noble Lord is aware, the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland

13 Feb 2013 : Column WA167

acts independently of the Government. Given its independent status, the Government have not put in place targets for response times in relation to correspondence between the Parades Commission and members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Randerson on 22 January (WA 202), whether there is any system for assessing whether the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission works such hours as are reasonably necessary to fulfil his role within the requirement of his terms and conditions of appointment; and what information they receive in order to be accountable for the matter.[HL5253]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The noble Lord is aware that Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) operates independently of Government. Whilst the chief commissioner is expected to work such hours as are reasonably necessary to fulfil the duties as set out in his terms and conditions, how he chooses to allocate his time in fulfilling his responsibilities is a matter for him. The chief commissioner accounts for his performance and that of the commission members in the NIHRC’s annual report, which is presented to Parliament each year.

Overseas Aid

Question

Asked by The Earl of Listowel

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much of the proposed increase in overseas development aid will be spent on (1) nutrition, and (2) agricultural interventions.[HL5304]

Baroness Northover: There are no published figures on future thematic areas of development assistance spend. The Department for International Development’s (DfID) annual report, pages 199-201, sets out the department’s actual programme resource outturn for 2011-12 and 2012-13 and presents indicative planning figures for 2013-14 by country only.

Food and nutrition security are UK Government priorities. Development assistance spent on nutrition almost tripled from £12.9 million in 2008-9 to £37.5 million in 2011-12. This does not include significant additional sums spent on humanitarian aid, nutrition research and nutrition sensitive development. DfID is working with other donors to agree a method for tracking all nutrition spend. The UK is scaling up its nutrition programmes and spend on nutrition is expected to continue to increase. DfID does not disaggregate development assistance spent on agriculture and food

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security as there is significant overlap in these areas. The UK has met its commitments made at the G8 Summit in 2009 in full, disbursing over £1.1 billion between 2009 and 2012. This has helped millions of people fight chronic hunger and malnutrition in over 20 countries. The UK will continue to provide broadly equivalent resources to those committed for food security and agriculture.

Police: River Police

Questions

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what impact the 40 per cent reduction in the Marine Policy Unit of the Metropolitan Police in April 2013 will have on night-time patrols in the river.[HL5256]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what will happen to the Museum of the River Police when Wapping Police Station is closed. [HL5257]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Decisions about the most effective use of available resources, including numbers of officers and patrols by Thames River Police and the Museum of the River Police, are a matter for the Mayor of London, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.

Railways: Heathrow Express

Question

Asked by Viscount Astor

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 18 January (WA 161), what agreements have been put in place with Heathrow Express following the expiry of the track access agreement in 2023 to ensure that passengers from the north will be able to access Heathrow Airport.[HL5250]

Earl Attlee: Heathrow Express is an Open Access operator and is not operated under a franchise agreement with the Department for Transport. Decisions as to the future track access agreement that this train operator may need after the end of its current track access agreement are therefore for Heathrow Express itself, Network Rail and the independent Office of Rail Regulation.

Roads: Fatalities

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Air Accident Investigation Branch continues to require closure of the roads around the site of the recent helicopter crash in Vauxhall; when they expect the roads to be re-opened; and why they were not opened as expected on 4 February.[HL5287]

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Earl Attlee: The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is no longer on site and do not require any road closures at Vauxhall as all the helicopter debris has now been recovered.

With the exception of trunk roads, under devolution roads in London are the responsibility of the local highway authority, either Transport for London (TfL) or the relevant London Borough.

However, TfL has advised that repairing a crane of this size and nature is a slow and intricate process and that severe weather can have a significant effect on progress. Due to recent high winds, some of which have reached in excess of 35 kilometres per hour, and heavy fog around the Vauxhall area, Brookfield Multiplex’s work to repair the 190-metre crane on St Georges Tower took longer than originally planned but was completed on 10 February 2013.

Roads: Speed Limits

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of 20 miles per hour speed limits on the safety of children, and what advice they give to local authorities on that subject. [HL5340]

Earl Attlee: In 1996 the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) published a report for the Department for Transport on 20 mph zones. The report showed that accidents fell by 60% and accidents to children fell by 67% where these zones had been introduced. (Review of Traffic Calming Schemes in 20mph Zones, TRL report 215)

The department has also researched the effects of the introduction of widespread 20 mph limits in Portsmouth and has published some preliminary findings. These can be found at: http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/speed-limits-portsmouth/speed-limits-portsmouth.pdf.

The interim report (Atkins, published 2009) found a 22% reduction in casualties (at all ages) where the national trend was a fall of 14%.

On 18 January 2012 the department published Setting Local Speed Limits (DfT Circular 01/2013), which revises guidance to local councils, which will help them implement more consistent speed limits on local roads. It incorporates recent changes that create more flexibility for authorities to implement 20 mph limits and zones. It says that traffic authorities can, over time, introduce 20 mph speed limits or zones on major streets where there are—or could be—significant numbers of journeys on foot, and/or where pedal cycle movements are an important consideration, and this outweighs the disadvantage of longer journey times for motorised traffic. This is in addition to encouraging 20 mph zones in residential streets in cities, towns and villages, particularly where the streets are being used by people on foot and on bicycles, there is community support and the characteristics of the street are suitable.

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Schools: Life-saving Training

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the adequacy of provision of emergency life-saving training in state schools; and whether they plan to take steps to improve such training. [HL5098]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): There has been no such assessment.

Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education can provide a context for schools to teach pupils about basic emergency procedures and where to get help at primary school; and at secondary school, develop the skills to cope with emergency situations that require basic first aid procedures, including, resuscitation techniques.

We trust head teachers to use their professional judgment to decide the content of their school’s PSHE programme according to the needs of their pupils, and to access appropriate training for their staff.

Sudan

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have received about the decisions of the African Union Summit, which started on 25 January, on the mechanisms to ensure that the referendum to determine the final status of the Abyei area in October 2013 are agreed by the stakeholders and satisfy the international human rights norms that apply to electoral processes.[HL5228]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Relations between Sudan and South Sudan were discussed by the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), meeting at the level of Head of State and Government, during the African Union summit on 25 January. The AUPSC regretted the lack of progress in implementing an agreement from June 2011 on the establishment of interim institutions for Abyei, and reiterated the need for agreement on a process for determining the territory’s final status.

The AUPSC reaffirmed its support for a proposal on final status put forward by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in September 2012, which would see an internationally monitored referendum take place in late 2013 on whether Abyei should join South Sudan. The AUPSC asked the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan to continue their negotiations both on the interim institutions and the question of final status, and for the AUHIP to report on progress during March 2013.

We are urging both parties to implement the interim arrangements, and also to make substantive progress in parallel towards determining Abyei’s final status.

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We believe that the AUHIP’s proposal, if fully implemented, would preserve Abyei’s special status as a bridge between the two countries, and embody important and continuing safeguards for the rights of all Abyei’s communities.

Vehicles: Semi-trailers

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what instructions they have given to Risk Solutions, the contractor appointed to assess the trial of large goods vehicles, about assessing the costs imposed on local authorities in dealing with road damage on non-motorway roads and damage to street furniture as a result of the trial.[HL5258]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport (DfT) has not given specific instructions to Risk Solutions to

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assess costs in relation to non-motorway road and street furniture damage as a result of the DfT trial of longer semi-trailers.

The semi-trailers in the trial are operating at the same maximum gross vehicle weight and the same number of axles as standard trailers, up to 44 tonnes on 6 axles. So road wear should not be significantly different when vehicles are fully loaded. Empty vehicles may be slightly heavier, due to the extra length and rear steer axles, so may cause slightly more wear when empty or lightly loaded. But the key aim of the trial, which will be evaluated by Risk Solutions, is that there should be fewer lorries on the road to carry the same volume of goods. This should mean less road wear overall compared to the standard length trailers.

Risk Solutions will also be monitoring incidents and collisions involving longer semi-trailers, which may include collisions with street furniture, although the main concern will be any injury accidents involving longer semi-trailers. So far, no injury accidents have been reported.