28 Feb 2013 : Column WA343

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Written Answers

Thursday 28 February 2013

Armed Forces: Supplies and Equipment

Question

Asked by Lord Rosser

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the value of supplies and equipment lost by the Ministry of Defence in each of the past two financial years; what is the estimated value of lost supplies and equipment during the current financial year; and what is the projected value of lost supplies and equipment for each of the next two financial years. [HL5311]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Information on losses and special payments is published annually in the Ministry of Defence's annual report and accounts. The most recent amounts cover the financial year 2011-12.

In the first eight months of 2012-13, losses of accountable stores totalled £8.4 million. Such losses include losses by fraud, theft, arson, sabotage, and repairable damage to buildings, accidental damage, fire, items lost in transit and items exceeding the expiry date.

It is difficult to estimate future losses, but advance notifications of cases of losses that are ongoing, have not been signed off and whose estimated value exceeds £250,000 are detailed in the annual report and accounts. The values of these cases may change, however, when they have been completed and this will be reflected in the final figures that appear in annual reports and accounts.

Asylum Seekers

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure that the rate of financial support for children and their families needing asylum support while they are in the United Kingdom is adequate to prevent children being left destitute. [HL5707]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The level of support provided to asylum seekers and their children is kept under review, but the Government are satisfied that it is sufficient to meet their essential living needs and prevent them being left destitute.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to uprate the level of financial support for children and their families needing asylum support while they are in the United Kingdom.[HL5708]

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: There are no current plans to change asylum support rates. However, we will continue to keep them under review. Any changes to the rates will be notified to Parliament.

Audit Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Christopher

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many staff are currently employed by the Audit Commission; and what functions the Commission continues to perform.[HL5648]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the Controller of Audit at the Audit Commission to write to the noble Lord direct.

Letter from Marcine Waterman, Controller of Audit, Audit Commission, dated 28 February 2013 to Lord Christopher

Parliamentary Question: how many staff are currently employed by the Audit Commission; and what functions the Commission continues to perform.

Your Parliamentary Question outlined above has been passed to me to reply.

I would add that the programme to end routine inspection and assessment, disband the Audit Commission and introduce a new local audit framework will save £650 million of taxpayers’ money over the next five years.

Your Parliamentary Question outlined above has been passed to me to reply.

As at 1 January 2013 the Audit Commission employed 162 staff. We continue to transition to a smaller organisation of fewer than 70 staff.

The Audit Commission’s core function continues to be the oversight and regulation of the local audit regime. The Commission has four statutory functions in relation to audit:

appointing auditors to local government and NHS bodies;

preparing and keeping under review Codes of Audit Practice, which prescribe how auditors should discharge their statutory duties;prescribing scales of fees for audits; andmaking arrangements for the certification of grant claims and returns.

The Commission appoints auditors to NHS charities under Section 43A of the Charities Act 1993 and also has specific powers to match data for the purposes of preventing and detecting fraud: the National Fraud Initiative.

As well, the Commission has a statutory function, as set out in the Audit Commission Act 1988, to undertake or promote comparative or other studies to improve the services and functions of its audited bodies. This function is currently fulfilled by our programme of national briefings, which supports the work of auditors.

A copy of this letter will appear in Hansard.

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Civil Partnerships

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the main distinctions between a civil partnership and the planned civil marriage.[HL5025]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: Civil partnerships were established in 2005 to provide same-sex couples with broadly equivalent rights, responsibilities and protections as are afforded to opposite-sex couples through marriage. Civil partnership and marriage are two entirely separate legal regimes, and some of the differences between them include the method by which they are formed, the method by which they can be ended, treatment for pension purposes and terminology used.

Despite the small practical differences between marriage and civil partnership, marriage has a particular significance and importance to many people, whatever their sexual orientation, and to our society. That is why the Government believe the unfair barrier preventing same-sex couples being able to marry should be removed. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will extend marriage to same-sex couples.

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stowell of Beeston on 19 December 2012 (WA 307) which referred to “opposite sex couples” although the Question specified “heterosexual couples”, whether they regard those two designations as having separate definitions. [HL5243]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The Civil Partnership Act 2004 allows same-sex couples to enter into a civil partnership provided they are eligible to do so (the eligibility criteria are set out in Section 3 of the Act). There is no requirement in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 as to the sexual orientation of the parties. The current restriction on a couple entering into a marriage is also because of the legal gender of the parties, rather than their sexual orientation.

We use the term opposite sex to mean a man and a woman.

Civil Service: Secondments

Questions

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many civil servants and government staff have been seconded to work in companies or organisations in each month since June 2011; from which departments; to which companies; and what were the grades of staff in each case.[HL5468]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people have been seconded to work in government departments in each month since June 2011; in which departments; from which companies; and what position they held.[HL5469]

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I refer the noble Baroness to the answer given to the noble Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne on 9 July 2012 (Official Report, col. WA 201).

Under the Civil Service reform plan, we have committed to making it easier for staff at all levels to move between the Civil Service and the private sector. We are currently reviewing this process to create new arrangements for secondments and interchange this year.

Commerce and Advertising

Question

Asked by Lord Naseby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment the Office of National Statistics has made of the work of the Boston Consulting Group on how to measure the “per capita commerce market and the online advertising market”; and whether they have plans to take account of that research in preparing the United Kingdom's gross domestic product figures. [HL5486]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Glen Watson, Director General for ONS, to Lord Naseby, dated February 2013.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what assessment the Office of National Statistics has made of the work of the Boston Consulting Group on how to measure the “per capita commerce market and the online advertising market”; and whether they have plans to take account of that research in preparing the United Kingdom's gross domestic product figures. HL5486

The Office for National Statistics compiles gross domestic product data (GDP) which implicitly measures many of the impacts of the internet, as outlined in the Boston Consulting Group report. However, these impacts do not give a value relating to the internet itself. In all cases raised in the report, where applicable and relevant, the value of the internet to firms and consumers is already captured in some form in GDP statistics.

Committee on Standards in Public Life

Question

Asked by Lord Rosser

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 5 February (WS 5) on the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which public services are covered by the words “public services” in the penultimate line of the fourth paragraph of that statement.[HL5494]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: As paragraph 49 of the report of the triennial review of the Committee on Standards in Public Life makes clear, this comment on the committee’s remit is intended to clarify that it

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can examine issues relating to the ethical standards of the delivery of public services by private and voluntary sector organisations, paid for by public funds, even where those delivering the services have not been appointed or elected to public office.

Courts: Disabled People

Questions

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on how many occasions in each month in the last year have people with disabilities had their tribunal hearings with HM Courts and Tribunal Service postponed or cancelled because they were unable to attend through being unable to access the building in which the tribunal was being held.[HL5625]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The question has been interpreted as relating to the First-tier Tribunal—Social Security and Child Support (SSCS), administered by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). The SSCS tribunal hears appeals against Department for Work and Pensions decisions on entitlement to an individual’s entitlement to social security and child support, including disability living allowance and employment and support allowance.

HMCTS is committed to ensuring that our services and facilities are accessible to all of our customers. There have, however, been six incidents in the last year where people with disabilities have had tribunal hearings postponed or cancelled due to problems with access to the hearing venue. These relate to two different buildings:

on 30 January 2013, an individual with mobility issues was refused entry to the Basildon Social Security and Child Support Tribunal venue, due to a local manager’s concern about the evacuation arrangements for the building. During the investigation into this incident, HMCTS managers became aware of three similar instances in November 2012.Remedial action was taken immediately senior management became aware of the situation. HMCTS has apologised to the four people concerned, who were all provided with dates for a new hearing at a nearby venue; anda gas leak at the Fox Court venue in Central London on 22 January resulted in the cancellation of all hearings at that venue. The hearings were rearranged at other nearby venues on following days. Two of these hearings (on 24 and 25 January) had to be adjourned when both lifts in the alternative venue, Clifford’s Inn in Central London, went out of service. The two appellants involved had mobility issues and were unable to climb the stairs to reach the hearing rooms on the second floor. There were no alternative suitable rooms on the ground floor to permit the hearing of these cases.Apologies were made to both appellants, and one was issued with a new hearing date in Fox Court. In the second case the tribunal panel looked at the papers and decided that further medical evidence was needed before the case went ahead. The case will be relisted once this evidence is received.

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HMCTS is committed to supporting the needs of all its users. We have apologised to all users affected and have taken all possible action to ensure that this does not happen again.

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they issue about continuing to withdraw benefits from disabled people whose appeal hearings against benefits decisions are postponed because they are prevented from attending a tribunal hearing with HM Courts and Tribunal Service because they unable to access the building.[HL5626]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): A long-standing element of the rules on social security appeals is that benefit is not paid pending an appeal hearing. This is the case with all benefits, including disability living allowance, with the exception of employment support allowance. Further, the law is clear that no interim payments can be made during this period. Neither the substantive benefit law nor that relating to interim payments is modified if a hearing is postponed. Accordingly no guidance has been issued.

Criminal Justice: Reoffenders

Question

Asked by Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of persons convicted of violence against the person are deemed to be at medium or low risk of reoffending.[HL5636]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Offenders are assessed for their likelihood of reoffending as well as for their risk of serious harm. However, information on the level of risk of reoffending of all persons convicted of violence is not available centrally. The information which is available does not cover every convicted offender and would therefore not present an accurate profile of risk levels.

Disabled Children: Children’s Holidays

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will review the proposed per capita charge payable to Ofsted of £72.48 for voluntary organisations arranging holidays for disabled children, in order to exclude organisations arranging fewer than two holidays per year for fewer than 50 children. [HL5233]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): We recently consulted on changes to reduce substantially the regulatory burden for holiday schemes for disabled children and the consequent cost of inspection. This was favourably received. Under the new framework, to be introduced in April, Ofsted will

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continue to charge a per capita fee for inspection but this will be significantly reduced. The future structure for Ofsted inspection fees, including the use of per capita charging, will be reviewed in setting the inspection fees for 2014-17.

Education: Schools Forums

Question

Asked by Baroness Hughes of Stretford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what additional powers or responsibilities will be given to Schools Forums as a result of (1) local authorities funding provision for people aged 16–24 with special educational needs, or (2) measures proposed in the Children and Families Bill.[HL5490]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): The department is currently seeking views on whether further changes need to be made to the Schools Forums (England) Regulations in order to ensure greater fairness and transparency in the operation of Schools Forums.

Elderly People: Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People

Question

Asked by Baroness Campbell of Surbiton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure dignity for older lesbian, gay and bisexual people.[HL4789]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The Government published the first ever cross-government action plan, Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality: Moving Forward, in March 2011 which outlined an ambitious range of actions we will take to improve the lives of LGB&T people. We are making steady progress in delivering this action plan.

Actions include working across government to ensure public services consider and meet the diverse needs of LGB&T people. As set out in the action plan, the Government are considering what further action could be taken to support the health and social care needs of older LGB&T people.

Energy: Biomass Fuel

Question

Asked by Lord Jenkin of Roding

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they take to ensure that those responsible for the phytosanitary checks that are made on imports of controlled wood used as biofuel carry out that task; and what checks are made on the process of identifying the material declared at import.[HL5463]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The same notification requirements apply to all forms of controlled wood and the Customs clearance is only permitted when the relevant phytosanitary checks are completed. The Forestry Commission operates a system of regular management reviews to ensure that

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these phytosanitary checks are completed by inspectors according to standard operational procedures. These management reviews are supplemented by independent reviews by Forestry Commission Internal Auditors and the European Union’s Food and Veterinary Office auditors. Plant health inspectors are required to attend regular refresher training on import inspection procedures.

Energy: Solar Power

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the solar power industry and jobs in the United Kingdom of the imposition of tariffs by the European Union on the import of solar panels from China.[HL5729]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The UK Government examine each anti-dumping and anti-subsidy case on its merits, based on evidence presented by the Commission and representations received from interested parties, including producers, importers, retailers and consumers.

We submitted a number of technical questions to the Commission before it opened its investigations. The investigations are ongoing, and we will assess the Commission’s proposals very carefully once we receive them.

We will continue to engage with all interested parties as the investigations continue.

First World War: Commemoration

Question

Asked by Lord Rana

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 12 February (Official Report, col. 559), what plans they have to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, and in particular the contribution of soldiers from the Indian sub-continent; whether there are any plans for special recognition of the Indian regiments that served in that war; and whether there are plans for any such commemorations to take place in the Indian sub-continent as well as in the United Kingdom.[HL5576]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: Detailed planning of the First World War Centenary Commemoration Programme is under way. The Government will mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and engagements at Gallipoli and Passchendaele to recognise the contribution of all the allied troops involved, including those of the Indian subcontinent.

Dr Andrew Murrison MP, the Prime Minister’s special representative for the First World War Centenary Commemoration, will shortly be meeting members of the Commonwealth, including the countries from the Indian subcontinent, to discuss plans for the commemorations both in the UK and overseas.

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Government: Consultations

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how their new approach to consultations, announced in July 2012, upholds and strengthens the principles set out in the compact between them and civil society organisations.[HL5629]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Government are committed to opening up policy-making to a wider range of inputs. Civil society organisations have an important role to play in the development of policy, and we will look to involve them wherever possible.

The consultation principles introduced in 2012 included a range of measures to improve consultations, including: following a range of timescales rather than defaulting to a 12-week period, particularly where extensive engagement has occurred before; giving more thought to how we engage with and consult with those who are affected, including the VCS sector; consultation being digital by default but with other forms being used where necessary; and continuing to respect the principles of the compact between Government and the voluntary and community sectors.

The principles of the compact will continue to be upheld and the compact was strengthened by the guidance which makes specific reference to the agreement

House of Lords: Travel Expenses

Questions

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees what budget headings in the House of Lords Estimate cover the cost of travel within the United Kingdom and abroad by members of staff of the House of Lords. [HL5661]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): In the Main Estimate the costs of travel within the United Kingdom and abroad by members of staff of the House of Lords are covered in Part II, subhead A4— House of Lords Administration Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit. In the financial plan, which provides more detail, they are included in the heading “staff costs”.

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees what foreign visits have been made by members of staff of the House of Lords, including per diem, accommodation and travel costs, since May 2010.[HL5662]

The Chairman of Committees: Members of staff may accompany Members of the House of Lords on overseas visits in relation to the business of the House. Such visits include committee visits, particularly in relation to the EU sub-committees, and visits undertaken by the Lord Speaker or her representatives. The great majority of such costs relate to Members of the House

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of Lords, and to provide details of the costs attributable to staff for such visits could be done only at disproportionate cost. The total cost of such visits, including the costs relating to Members and staff of the House of Lords, for the past three financial years was:

£

2010

57,319

2011

44,105

2012-13 (to date)

67,061

In addition to the above, the House of Lords has spent the following sums which clearly relate to overseas visits by members of staff of the House of Lords in the past three financial years:

£

2010-11

20,135

2011-12

24,032

2012-13 (to date)

29,056

This expenditure includes:

costs paid by the House of Lords Overseas Office for visits to fulfil task 8 of the House of Lords Administration Strategic Plan 2011-15, which includes “sharing information and best practice with other parliaments and assemblies within the United Kingdom and overseas”, and included visits to parliaments and assemblies in Canada and Australia;visits to Greece, Turkey, Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Belgium relating to the work of the European Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation; andcosts incurred by the House of Lords for overseas visits by PICT staff who are employees of both Houses of Parliament.

To provide information on a visit-by-visit basis analysed by accommodation, travel and related costs could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Other staff travel and related costs have been incurred by members of staff of the House of Lords but cannot easily be separated into UK and overseas travel. The great majority of these costs related to UK-only travel. Exceptionally within these costs there may have been overseas visits, but to provide further details to differentiate between UK and overseas travel could be done only at disproportionate cost. The total of these travel and related costs, including UK and overseas visits, for the last three financial years was:

£

2010-11

24,674

2011-12

24,263

2012-13 (to date)

14,041

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether there are circumstances in which members of staff of the House of Lords are allowed to travel First Class open tickets to destinations within the United Kingdom.[HL5663]

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To ask the Chairman of Committees what terms and conditions exist in contracts of employment for members of staff of the House of Lords for the payment of reimbursement of travel, accommodation and other expenses.[HL5664]

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether he will publish the expenses and allowances scheme that applies to members of staff of the House of Lords in carrying out their public duties.[HL5665]

The Chairman of Committees: The contracts of employment of staff of the House of Lords Administration do not set out terms and conditions relating to travel and subsistence. The travel and subsistence scheme is set out in Appendix F of the Staff Handbook. The latest version of the House of Lords Staff Handbook (18th edition, January 2012) is published on Parliament’s external website at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldhandbk.htm.

Appendix F of the Staff Handbook, paragraph 9, states that “the most economic mode of travel, having regard to all the circumstances, should be chosen”. Paragraph 13 states that “Rail travel should normally be standard class.” Therefore open first-class tickets would not normally be authorised.

Media: Media Freedom

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report of the European Union High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy.[HL4907]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Government have noted the contents of the report on Media Freedom and Pluralism A Free and Pluralistic Media to Sustain European Democracy. Many of the issues it raises are already under detailed consideration by the UK Government as a result of the Leveson inquiry. The Commission has not yet given any indication of its intentions with regards to the recommendations made by the report, and has not engaged member states in discussions. However, the Government have no intention of allowing Europe to regulate the UK press, and will set out, directly and through existing forums, why we believe this is a matter for individual member states.

Media: Newspaper Closures

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Trinity Mirror group to explore options for averting newspaper closures and redundancies, taking account of the case for press plurality in the United Kingdom in general, and in Wales in particular.[HL5369]

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble: No discussions have been held with Trinity Mirror group on these issues.

Media: Press Regulation

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the European Union's competency over the issue of press regulation in the United Kingdom.[HL4908]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Government have no intention of allowing Europe to regulate the UK press, and will set out, directly and through existing forums, why we believe this is a matter for individual member states.

National Crime Agency

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on how many occasions Northern Ireland Office Ministers have (1) met, or (2) spoken, with (a) the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, and (b) other ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive, to discuss issues relating to their proposals to create a National Crime Agency and its implications for Northern Ireland.[HL5473]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has spoken regularly to the Northern Ireland Justice Minister about the National Crime Agency. He has been leading discussions with Northern Ireland Executive colleagues about the National Crime Agency. The Secretary of State has not discussed the matter in detail with other Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive. The Government remain committed to delivering a UK-wide crime-fighting agency focused on tackling serious, organised and complex crime.

Northern Ireland Office: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the Northern Ireland Office has paid to former or current members of staff each year since 2000 as a result of incorrect employment practices.[HL5598]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): Comparable figures for the department as it is now configured are not available following the completion of the devolution of policing and justice functions on 12 April 2010.

Since 12 April 2010, the department paid one former member of staff the sum of £22,949.49 following a decision by the Civil Service Appeals Board.

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Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many employees the Northern Ireland Office had on 1 January in each year since 2008.[HL5600]

Baroness Randerson: Comparable figures for the department as it is now configured are not available following the completion of the devolution of policing and justice functions on 12 April 2010.

As stated in the relevant Northern Ireland Office annual report and accounts, the number of NIO employees in 2010-11 and 2011-12 was 79 and 85 respectively. The number of NIO employees at 1 January 2012 was 85.

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to reduce the number of staff in the Northern Ireland Office during 2013.[HL5601]

Baroness Randerson: The Northern Ireland Office keeps its staffing levels under regular review. Vacancies are only filled when there is judged to remain a business case to do so.

Offenders: Outsourcing Probation

Questions

Asked by Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the event of probation tasks being outsourced, private and third sector providers will be required to pay for data stored on Delius.[HL5633]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice has consulted on proposals to reform the way in which offenders are rehabilitated in the community, including opening up rehabilitation services to a more diverse range of providers who will be paid by results to reduce reoffending.

Where services will be managed by contractors, the necessary data exchanges will occur between agencies. Consideration will be given to what security access and charging arrangements would be most appropriate under any new arrangements for the delivery of probation services.

We will announce further details of our proposals once we have considered the responses to the consultation, which closed on 22 February 2013.

Asked by Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

To ask Her Majesty’s Government , in the event of probation tasks being outsourced, what data management and information assurance measures will need to be put in place to support the change programme.[HL5635]

Lord McNally: In the event of probation services being outsourced, data management and information assurance measures will align to existing probation provider contracts and will be mandated within the

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new service provider contracts. The measures will be in suitable breadth and depth to the information concerned and to the level of risk to the Ministry of Justice as the commissioning authority. The measures will include, as a minimum, specific requirements for the service provider to maintain an information management system in accordance with the following: ISO 27001 (Information Security Management System);CESG Information Assurance Standards, Manuals, Guidance;HMG Security Policy Framework;Commissioning Authority Security & Information Assurance Policies;Data Protection Act 1998; andData Governance.

Planning

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which local planning authorities have adopted (1) core strategies, and (2) policies for site allocations, separately or combined; and which have submitted them for examination but not yet adopted them.[HL5161]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Planning Inspectorate maintains a national database of local plan progress, which is regularly updated. The data can be found at: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning/planningsystem/localplans#letter.

Sixty-eight per cent of local planning authorities in England now have a local plan at the publication stage or beyond.

To place this progress in context, six years after the passage of the last Administration’s Planning Act 2004, only 57 core strategies had been adopted out of 335 local planning authorities by May 2010.

Prisoners: Foreign Nationals

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many non-United Kingdom citizens are serving custodial sentences in HM prisons.[HL5631]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As at 31 December 2012 there were 7,260 foreign national offenders serving custodial sentences in prison establishments in England and Wales.

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

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Prisoners: Religion

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what statistics they have published on the religion of prisoners in England and Wales since the end of 2010.[HL5638]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Statistics on the prison population by religion in England and Wales are published annually within table A1.23 of the Offender Management Caseload Statistics—annual tables, available at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/prisons-and-probation/oms-quarterly/oms-quarterly-editions.

The table below provides information on the population in prison establishments in England and Wales by religion as at 30 June 2011.

2011

Total

85,374

All Christian

42,511

Anglican

19,713

Free Church

1,136

Roman Catholic

15,001

Other Christian

6,661

Muslim

10,672

Hindu

452

Sikh

711

Buddhist

1,793

Jewish

228

Other religious group

1,010

Non recognised

17

No religion

26,113

Not recorded

1,867

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Schools: Academies

Questions

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to consider the recommendations made by the Academies Commission in their report Unleashing Greatness; Getting the best from an academised system.[HL5240]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): We agree with the commission about the importance of the quality of teaching, strong governance, and the need for meaningful collaboration between schools. The report includes a number of recommendations which are being considered as part of our ongoing work to maximise the effectiveness of the academies programme.

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Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many staff are employed in connection with academy schools (1) in the Department for Education, and (2) in other agencies and organisations contracted to the Department for Education; and where those staff are located.[HL5288]

Lord Nash: As at 31 January 2013 there are around 570 people (full-time equivalents) in the Department for Education engaged directly in work related to academy schools. This includes staff working in the Education Funding Agency. The DFE staff working on the academies programme are based on 10 sites—Bristol, Coventry, Darlington, Guildford, Histon, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Runcorn, Sheffield.

There are other staff in the department who make a contribution, both to policy development and to programme delivery related to academy schools as part of their wider role.

Schools: Asbestos

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will issue a warning to all schools about the potential for asbestos fibre release from warm air cabinet heaters in schools.[HL5367]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): I am aware of the situation at Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly, Wales where there were concerns about asbestos exposure and whether warm air cabinet heaters in the school were spreading fibres.

The national publicity of this case will have helped to highlight the need for all schools to make sure they are treating the management of asbestos very seriously. The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the situation at Cwmcarn is still under way and it is appropriate to wait until they have concluded their investigation and reported before deciding what action, if any, DfE should take.

The DfE published guidance on the management of asbestos in schools in October 2012, and we will review this guidance if necessary once the outcome of the current HSE investigation is known.

Schools: Building Programme

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of their school re-building programme on children.[HL5339]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): The Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) was open to all schools and sixth-form

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colleges. Local authorities, dioceses, academy trusts and voluntary bodies were invited to submit applications on behalf of schools.

The PSBP is targeted at schools with the most urgent building condition issues and the 261 highest priority schools that applied will be rebuilt or have their building condition needs met through the programme.

In order to fulfil the Public Sector Equality Duty under s.149 Equality Act, an equality analysis was carried out by the department and considered by Ministers in making their decision about which schools are in the PSBP. The equality analysis is published with this answer.

Telecommunications: Electronic Communications

Question

Asked by Baroness Parminter

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to bring forward legislation to extend Ofcom’s powers to impose infrastructure sharing on all providers of electronic communications networks with rights under national legislation to install infrastructure on private or public land.[HL5582]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: Ofcom has existing powers under Article 12 of the Framework Directive of the Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications in the European Union to impose infrastructure sharing on those operators without significant market power, who have been granted code powers under the Electronic Communications Code. Any use of these powers would need to be proportionate and following consultation.

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Telecommunications: Overhead Lines

Question

Asked by Baroness Parminter

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will publish in full the responses to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport consultation on relaxing the restrictions on the deployment of overhead telecommunications lines, launched in November 2011.[HL5581]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Government are committed to publishing the full responses to the November 2011 consultation on relaxing the restrictions on the deployment of overhead telecommunications lines. These will be published by the end of March.

Tourism: Chinese Visitors

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made on their target to attract 500,000 visitors from China by 2015.[HL5666]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The most recent International Passenger Survey data indicated a 24% increase in the number of Chinese visitors in 2012 compared to 2011. We continue to build on this increase through a wider strategy for Chinese tourists. This includes the GREAT Britain marketing campaign as well as improvements to the UK visa service in China, announced by the UK Border Agency in December 2012. The changes, some of which have already come into effect, will help to further improve the UK’s competitiveness in attracting Chinese visitors. Aviation capacity between the UK and China will benefit from a new service between Chengdu and Heathrow, to be operated by British Airways from later this year.